Backbend yoga for beginners


It is impossible to beat a backbend that gradually crescendos in intensity, especially for those who spend their days at a desk.

Vinyasa flows centered on spinal health are the best way to safely deepen backbends, open your chest and shoulders, and increase your flexibility.

Before you do back bends, always ignite your core by doing a Boat pose or holding a long plank. Release each one with a forward fold or twist.

This backbend sequence is for beginners. It will slowly open up your spine, chest, and abdomen. You’ll also get the deep backbend you crave.

Roar from the Mountain Top

It is also a good way to warm up before doing some back bending.

Backbends are safer when you lean forward, opening up the frontal plane. So, think about how much your body hunches forward throughout the day. Forgive your body for its slow recovery.

Stand in Extended Mountain Pose. Exhale loudly and push your hips inward. Cactus, your hands on either side of the ribs. Inhale and come up.

Repeat this two more times, each time pulling your stomach in and pressing your hips forward. To release the backbend, pause in Forward Fold and do a small twist.

Graduating Cobras

This sequence of backbends is great for warming your back, chest, and abdomen. Each variation should be held for two breaths.

Start with a half Locust pose on your stomach with your hands and chest hovering. Inhale and move into full Locust Pose, with hands and legs floating.

Exhale into Sphinx Pose, bringing your chest forward and relaxing your gluteal muscle. Inhale and do Baby Cobra. Come up one-third of the way and squeeze your elbows and shoulders. Stop here.

Then, on your next inhale, move to full Cobra, keeping your elbows bent. But start to activate your leg muscles by pointing your toes. Next, come to High Cobra while keeping your hips flat on the floor. Press your ribs outward. Exhale and pause here.

Inhale and perform Upward Facing, dog, lifting your legs off the mat, lowering your shoulders, and hovering them above your mat. Rest on your stomach for one minute, letting your legs drift left and right.

Your Camel Can Be Sunning

 Image Credit: Chara Caruthers

This is an easy way to do Camel Pose without damaging your spine. Listen to your back when you’re doing any pose, and avoid anything you haven’t warmed up for. Your breath is a good indicator of your safety: if it’s difficult to breathe smoothly, then you should back out.

This variation of Camel Pose requires that you pull your belly in, and your toes should touch when you are standing on your knees. Put your hands behind you, with your elbows spread wide. Or, place one hand over the other, in the middle of your upper back, with your elbows pointed upward. As you bend into Camel pose, try to lengthen your arms and open up your hips and thighs.

Hold for five breaths, then return to the Child’s Pose. Repeat this two or three times, getting deeper with each repetition. Make sure that your hips are over your knees.

Bridge Pose

This classic game can be played in so many different ways. Start simple, and make sure that your feet are always parallel. Keep your shoulders tight underneath you and leave space between your chest, your chin, and your feet (unless you’re using a block beneath your lower back). Repeat each lift twice. Hold for 5-10 seconds.

You can add variations to the leg and arm positions later, but this will get you started for something more. After finishing, pause in a reclined twist for five breaths on each side.

Bound Locust

Assume the Locust Position, but instead of trying to gain height, focus on pressing your hips downward. Maintain your gaze down to protect your neck. Hold for five breaths, then release your hips to the side and rock them.

Keep your chest and hips parallel to the top of your mat. You can’t lean to one side. You can also press your other hand into the mat underneath its shoulder and kick your foot into it to create a Cobra shape.

The other leg can either hover or stay on the ground. Repeat the first side for five breaths, then the second. Then, move the lower legs from side to side.

Tiger Pose

It can be done either right-hand to right-foot or left-hand to left-foot, depending on your feelings. This is a great preparation for many backbend poses like Wheel, Bound Half Moon, Candy Cane, and Dancer’s pose, as well as some upside-down work like Scorpion.

Keep your stomach in as you bend your spine. Lift your clavicle without overstressing the neck.

Hold each side for five breaths and then follow up with Thread The Needle. This will release all postures in a gentle twist.

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