After practicing the Yoga Crunch with a strong sense of your front-body core, you can move into backbends more safely, knowing you can consciously engage the muscles needed to protect the lumbar spine.
To begin, come to your hands and knees in Tabletop and do a few Cat/Cows. As you inhale, move the bottom tips of your shoulder blades in toward your front body, opening your chest. As you exhale, push the floor away and draw your navel to your spine. As you move through this spinal extension and flexion, can you recall the feeling of your pubic bone and sternum moving toward each other during crunches? Then, move into Plank Pose: From all fours, straighten your arms with your shoulders over your wrists, step both legs back, and straighten your knees, reaching through your heels. Lift the tops of your thighs as you reach your pubic bone up toward your sternum.