Cactus on the back is an amazing way to let gravity do its thing to an imbalanced body. I work with many different cactus variations; this is the gentlest version and my favorite.
Splayed open at the front, short and tight in the back—that’s how I would describe most people, myself included. But where as I know I have a history of and a tendency to lean backwards, tuck my pelvis, and lean my thighs forward, I don’t think that people in general see themselves that way.
Depending how tight you are Cactus on the Back is a passive way to open and release the back body and the upper chest. The tighter you are the more you will feel this ideally gentle pose, but everyone can benefit from it.
There are a few classic tight muscle groups that are addressed in this pose. I’ll list them all and then focus on one for this post.
The lattisimus dorsi is a large broad muscle of the back that connects the arm to the spine and the pelvis. When you lie in cactus, if your wrists are up off of the floor and unable to lengthen down it is likely a tight latisimus dorsi that is rotating the arm that way. It will also affect how well the ribcage can lie completely on the floor.
The latisimus dorsi is a very important muscle as it is one of only a few muscles that connect the extremities to the spine. It is an integral component of the yoga practice especially in backbends, a subject I hope to cover in future posts.