Groups of Postures – Retroflections (Púrva Pratana Sthiti)

In this week’s article, we got back to “Groups of Postures”, we will address to the Retroflection Asanas.

The retroflections are known as Purva pratana Sthiti.

They are fascinating and attractive postures, but we must be careful about how we introduce them in our practice. This introduction must be done smoothly and with simple ásana, such as Ūrdhva Mukha Svanasana.
The practice of Urdhva Mukha Svanasana will enable you to establish a foundation for retroflections, because in this asana (where we have the support of the hands and instep on the ground) the chest is expanded and our spine is requested gradually, allowing, after a few months of practice, we begin to address the most demanding retroflections, for example: Dhanurasana, and Salabhasana Ustrasana.

Note that before devote yourself to retroflections execution – and look how blog articles we have been developing, are arranged in the same logical sequence – first you need to learn and perform the standing postures and anteflexion standing and sitting as mentioned above (consult the previous articles), not only to strengthen but also to release the body.

Why this?

The muscles which allow us to act on the spinal column during the retroflection, are spinal muscles on the back (they are large muscles that are side by side on the spinal cord) and the anterior muscles (smaller when compared with the ones on the back, directly connected and near the spinal cord, on the anterior side of the body).

In any anteflexion or retroflexion movement, the posterior body muscles are quickly requested and activated .

In anteflexions and due to the extension of the body in front, posterior body muscles will be stretched and elongated.

In retroflections, to expand the thorax and activate (arcing) the spinal cord on dorsal and lumbar side, we have to request, activating, spinal muscles on the posterior side of the body.

But, at the same time , we also have to use in a consciously and subtle way the anterior muscles deeper connected on the spinal cord, which we should keep active, because these will be the necessary support to the entire spinal cord and body when we move the torso backwards. Note that it is important that all the muscles of the abdominal wall are strengthened, because during this action they will suffer a deep stretch.

The standing anteflexions promote freedom of movement in the lower region of the spinal cord, namely, lumbar, sacred and coccyx area. The area of the buttocks and back of thighs is released from its internal tension and contraction, thus not creating any restriction of movement. In advanced and demanding retroflections, the first and essential assumption is to have freedom in the dorsal, lumbar and sacral area and its ability of muscle support.

In retroflections, the adrenal glands are activated and stimulated. In anteflexions, these glands are reassured. This harmony is very important to maintain mental balance.

For this reason, before we approach the retroflections we must learn to comfortable execute the standing asanas, the anteflexions and twists (which we will discuss in the next article).

This will allow us to enjoy the benefits that the practice of retroflections can provide :

These postures are invigorating and rejuvenating .

The practice of retroflections keeps your mind and body alert , we feel more determined and courageous!

The thorax  opening in retroflections, which contradicts the rotation of the shoulders in front and sinking the center of our chest (a situation which is often seen in people likely to be sad or depressed), will help to release tension contained in the thorax and combat depression states.

At muscle and joint level, as can be understood from what mentioned above, they will have a direct action on the spinal cord and thorax. To expand the thorax, we must consciously mobilize the ribs at its insertion with the sternum and spinal cord, creating more mobility and flexibility in the spinal cord.

Also they strengthen the shoulders and arms .

At an organic level, by elongate and distend the abdominal area, they tone and revitalize all organs housed in the abdominal cavity .

The particular placement of the spinal cord in retroflections will activate the lumbar area (particularly in more complex and advanced retroflections) and hence internally stimulate the kidneys.

By creating space in the thorax, these postures will also allow us to improve the quality of our breath: the lungs internally have more space and freedom to distend with better range, allowing to absorb more oxygen, enhancing cellular respiration and oxygenation .

Stimulate the brain, making the mind clear and lucid .

As mentioned in the previous article, has the practice of Yoga can have many benefits, it also has some contraindications and precautions. In case you’ve a specific problem, you should always consult your physician before starting to practice .


-High blood pressure
-Heart problems
-Menstruation, pregnancy
-In case of back pain or knee injuries, retroflections should be practiced under the supervision of a competent teacher.

If you are a beginner, or at the moment you have little flexibility, you should perform these postures calmly and peacefully, respecting your abilities. You must work first the Ustrasana and Viparita Dandasana with a chair, because these postures will help you to relax and tone the body, which will allow you later to manage most demanding retroflections with safety and efficacy.

Another important aspect, if instead you have a lot of flexibility, don’t exaggerate retroflections in one specific area of the spinal cord, particularly in the lumbar region, which may cause some unwanted injury.

Thus, by executing these postures, we should always have the concern of creating space between the lower back and coccyx, sacred area, so it does not become tense and on effort, due to lumbar area collapse and unconsciousness.

If after the execution of a retroflection you feel dizzy, should put yourself in Savasana for a few minutes. You must also check if you don’t have cervical problems .

If you experience headaches, you should pay attention to your breathing, because you’ll probably doing it incorrectly – making breath retention.

So that you can get the most out of retroflections practice, you must repeat them 2-3 times.

In order to progress safely you can use some yoga support material, such as a wall to support the pelvic area on standing retroflections and on Ustrasana. Also in this posture you can use a bolster under the instep, if your spinal cord is still somewhat inflexible and palms of your hands do not reach the soles of the feet.

To assist the opening of the thorax and gain flexibility in the shoulder and spinal cord, you can do the Kurundàsana with ropes, if you haven’t any problem or injury in the shoulder joint and spinal cord.

The use and introduction to these materials for retroflections should always be guided by a competent teacher.

Continue with your practice with determination and consciousness, and wait for the next article where we will talk about the twists.