Looking forward to week nine of the Yogasynergy Fundamentals of Yoga Course when we look more closely at backward-bending, may come back to this post then with more to add.
UPDATE: I asked Simon Borg-Olivier for an Anatomy and Physiological perspective on backward-bending with the feet/thighs/knees together, he came back with some advantages and disadvantages.
Here's Ramaswami's original fb post.
"....To involve the entire spine including the sacro-coccygeal portion, it may be good to keep the legs (thighs) together in back bends like urdwadhanurasana, bridge pose, dhanurasana, ushtrasana and several others. Keeping the legs/thighs together helps to open the pelvis and not the hips. In several back bends my guru would ask us to keep the legs together". Ramaswami Srivatsa
Pictures of Ranjit Babu and Tatiana Popova from "Complete Book of vinyasa Yoga"
|LINK to google preview|
And see my permeant Srivatsa Ramaswami and Vinyasa Krama Resource Page at the top of the blog.
The relevant section is below, the full newsletter can be found HERE and an illustrated version of the Spinal exercise article including the exercises HERE
'For the back bending exercises it is necessary to protect the lumbar
spine. Towards that, the flexibility and the strength of the sacro-
coccygeal region is to be necessarily cultivated. The pelvic push is
efficiently facilitated by a simple but effective asana called
dwipadapeetam (pages109-115) or desk pose . This posture which is
casually practiced with the feet apart and thighs spread out leaves
out the the spine in the pelvic region. Hence it is necessary to keep
the feet together, tighten the gluteal muscles, draw in the rectum and
gently push the tailbone/sacrum up and feel a healthy stretch at the
bottom of the spine. Any back bending done without fully involving the
sacro coccygial region is a less efficient back bend and tends to put
more strain on the lumbar spine. Again my Guru used this posture to
teach to almost anyone. This upward pelvic push is to be done on
inhalation generally but, it can be done while exhaling smoothly by
the elderly, the obese, the pregnant, the highly strung etc. Because
the feet and back of the head are well anchored it becomes easy to
control the back bend very well and one can improve the stretch step
by step. Other poses that are in this group would be catushpada peetam
or Table pose ( page79 ) and Purvatanasana or the anterior stretch
pose (pages78,79). The other back-bends in the prone poses such as
Bhujangasana, dhanurasana and salabhasana (pages 138-145) also may be
done with the thighs and feet together to keep the sacrum and tailbone
engaged and stretchered. To ensure this condition, the teacher may ask
the student to keep the feet and thighs together by placing a piece of
paper between the feet and not let the paper drop to the floor while
raising the legs up in asana like Salabhasana. In these prone
exercises keeping the legs together enables to exercise all parts of
the spine, especially the oft neglected sacro-coccygeal area.'
from Ramaswami's September 2011 Newsletter