Yoga and Power Lifting:
I have been working on strengthening my bench press at CrossFit Chicago, while also working on furthering my back bends on my yoga mat. The two ideas go hand in hand.
To be truly effective when bench pressing, you want to use your ENTIRE body when you set up for the lift. Active legs and glutes, lifted hips, and shoulders drawn together and down will not only fire up your lats, but lift the chest and extend the spine. This will give you more support when you bring the barbell out of the rack. Don’t know what this means? Check out the top picture above.
Often times when we arrive in spinal extension we presume we are arching or “back bending” from the lower spine (lumbar vertebrae). In fact, if the goal is to lift the chest and retract the shoulder blades, the body should be extending from the thoracic vertebrae (the spine located within the ribs and behind the heart). Spinal extension from this region of your body reduces low back compression, i.e. back pain. Being able to get a safe and effective extension on the bench will undoubtedly help you achieve heavier lifts.
This same principle if helping me on the yoga mat. The more I focus on my THORACIC mobility - lifting the heart, drawing my shoulders down and engaging my abdominals (instead of over gripping the glutes) - the lighter and more open I become in Locust pose (bottom picture above).
I love when strength and mobilty unite!