Good Form: The benefits of backbends

In a backbend, it's important to use your arms and legs to support your spine.
(Charles Bush)

Bending backward is not just about the spine — you must use your arms and legs to support it. As you practice this pose, remember to point your tailbone down toward your heels to keep your lower back safe. A common mistake is to squeeze your buttocks forward, which pinches your lower back.

Kneel on a padded level surface with a yoga block positioned near the outside of each foot. Place your hands on your waist. Draw your tailbone down, and lift your chest and rib cage up.

Inhale as you arch up and back, placing your hands on the yoga blocks. Be sure to maintain the lift of your chest as you draw your tailbone down and deepen your back arch. Stay in this pose for six breaths. Your breathing should remain normal and comfortable.

Voight is the creator of a line of fitness DVDs, including “Full Body Stretch” and “Ballet BodySculpt.”