Backward Bends


YOGA VIDA
Posture Center

COBRA POSE

English/Sanskrit Cobra Pose, Bhujangasana

Level Basic

Alignment Lie down on your belly with your forehead down. Keep your hands pressing down behind your armpits, and wrap the elbows in. Point your toes and keep your thighs together. Lift your head and chest using the muscles of your back. Lengthen tailbone down and draw navel in. Reach your chest forward away from your hips, and press down through the tops of your feet.

Modifications Do not perform if your have a lower back injury.

Benefits Strengthens spine, back muscles, and buttocks. Stretches chest, shoulders and abdomen. Opens lungs and stimulates abdominal organs. Builds confidence for the future.
Posture Center

LOCUST POSE

English/Sanskrit Locust Pose, Shalabhasana

Level Basic

Alignment Lie down on your belly with your forehead down. Interlace your fingers behind your back into a fist with the wrists touching. Point your toes and keep your thighs together. Lift your head, chest, legs and arms. Lengthen the tailbone down and draw the navel in as you engage your thighs.

Modifications For less shoulder opening, keep the tops of your hands down on the floor.

If you have lower back pain or to increase the awareness of your inner thighs, squeeze a block in between your thighs.

Do not perform if you have a serious lower back injury or are in certain stages of pregnancy.

Benefits Strengthens spine, back muscles, hamstrings and buttocks. Stretches shoulders, chest, belly and thighs. Stimulates abdominal organs and builds confidence for the future.
Posture Center

BOW POSE

English/Sanskrit Bow Pose, Dhanurasana

Level Flow

Alignment Lie on your belly with your forehead down. Bend your knees, reach around and grab your outer ankles with your hands. Reach your feet back and lift your head, chest and legs up. Keep your knees in line with your hips and level with your shoulders.

Modifications If you can’t reach your ankles, use a belt and loop it around the front of your ankles. Lift everything up.

Do not perform if you're experiencing a serious lower back or knee injury, or if you have a shoulder impingement.

Benefits Strengthens hamstrings, glutes, spine, and back muscles. Stretches chest, shoulders, thighs, shins, and abdomen. Builds confidence for the future.
Posture Center

HERO'S POSE

English/Sanskrit Hero’s Pose, Virasana

Level Flow

Alignment Come onto your knees. Bring your knees to touch, and open your feet mat­‐width distance apart. Pull the flesh of your calves straight back and sit down in between your feet. Squeeze your thighs together and lift your chest. Rest your hands on your thighs.

Modifications If it isn’t possible to sit comfortably on the floor, sit on as many blocks as necessary.

Do not perform if you have a serious knee injury.

Benefits Stretches hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. Cleans knees and improves circulation. Builds discipline. Excellent for meditation.
Posture Center

CAMEL POSE

English Camel Pose, Ustrasana

Level Flow

Alignment From Downward Facing Dog, lower your knees to the floor and point your toes. Stand on your knees and bring your hands to your lower back, with the fingers facing down. Keep your knees parallel and hip­‐width distance apart. Press your hips down and your thighs back as you lift your chest. Reach your hands back to the soles of your feet. Relax your head back, and continue to press the front of your body forward and up.

Modifications For strain in your back or neck, keep your hands on your lower back and press the hips down, thighs back, and chest forward.

If full expression is too deep, tuck your toes under and place your hands on your heels for more length in the spine.

Do not perform if experiencing a serious lower back or neck injury.

Benefits Strengthens back muscles and stretches thighs, hip flexors, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and throat. Builds confidence for the future and fosters open communication.
Posture Center

CAMEL POSE VARIATION

English/Sanskrit Camel Pose Variation, Ustrasana

Level Flow

Alignment From Downward Facing Dog, lower your knees to the floor and point your toes. Stand on your knees and bring your hands to your lower back, with the fingers facing down. Keep your knees parallel and hip­‐width distance apart. Press your hips down and your thighs back as you lift your chest. Reach your hands back to the soles of your feet. Relax your head back, and continue to press the front of your body forward and up.

Modifications For strain in your back or neck, keep your hands on your lower back and press the hips down, thighs back, and chest forward, as shown here.

If full expression is too deep, tuck your toes under and place your hands on your heels for more length in the spine.

Do not perform if experiencing a serious lower back or neck injury.

Benefits Strengthens back muscles and stretches thighs, hip flexors, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and throat. Builds confidence for the future and fosters open communication.
Posture Center

CAMEL POSE VARIATION

English/Sanskrit Camel Pose Variation, Ustrasana

Level Flow

Alignment From Downward Facing Dog, lower your knees to the floor and point your toes. Stand on your knees and bring your hands to your lower back, with the fingers facing down. Keep your knees parallel and hip­‐width distance apart. Press your hips down and your thighs back as you lift your chest. Reach your hands back to the soles of your feet. Relax your head back, and continue to press the front of your body forward and up.

Modifications For strain in your back or neck, keep your hands on your lower back and press the hips down, thighs back, and chest forward.

If full expression is too deep, tuck your toes under and place your hands on your heels for more length in the spine, as shown here.

Do not perform if experiencing a serious lower back or neck injury.

Benefits Strengthens back muscles and stretches thighs, hip flexors, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and throat. Builds confidence for the future and fosters open communication.
Posture Center

Half Frog Pose, Ardha Bhekasana

English/Sanskrit Revolved Head of Knee Pose Variation, Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana

Level Flow

Alignment From lying on your belly, come onto your forearms with your elbows propped up under your shoulders. Place one arm at a diagonal across the front edge of the mat, and bend your opposite knee. Use the same arm as bent knee to reach back and grab your foot. Turn your fingers to face the same direction as your toes, bend your elbow and press your foot down outside your hip. Square your shoulders forward and reach your pubic bone and tailbone toward each other.

Modifications If it isn’t possible to bend your elbow as you press your foot down, keep your arm straight and work on navigating the foot outside your hip. Draw navel in and lengthen your tailbone as much as possible to protect the lower back.

Do not perform if you have a serious lower back injury.

Benefits Strengthens back muscles, and stretches ankles, thighs, groins, abdomen and chest. Stimulates abdominal organs and releases fear.
Posture Center

CRESCENT LUNGE POSE

English Crescent Lunge Pose, Anjaneyasana

Level Advanced

Alignment From a Lunge, lower your back knee to the floor, move your knee back behind your hip, and point your back toes. Keep your front knee directly over your ankle. Lift your torso up, interlace your fingers, and lift your chest away from your front thigh. Squeeze your inner thighs toward each other, draw your navel in and lengthen your tailbone down. Lift your chest and reach your arms up along side your ears.

Modifications If you have sensitive kneecaps, slide an unfolded blanket under your back knee.

If the full expression of the pose isn’t possible, keep your hands interlaced on your front thigh.

Do not perform if you have serious sacrum or pelvis instability.

Benefits Stretches thighs, psoas, groins, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and lungs. Builds confidence for the future.
Posture Center

CRESCENT LUNGE POSE VARIATION

English Crescent Lunge Pose Variation, Anjaneyasana

Level Advanced

Alignment From a Lunge, lower your back knee to the floor, move your knee back behind your hip, and point your back toes. Keep your front knee directly over your ankle. Lift your torso up, interlace your fingers, and lift your chest away from your front thigh. Squeeze your inner thighs toward each other, draw your navel in and lengthen your tailbone down. Lift your chest and reach your arms up along side your ears. Modifications If you are new to the Headstand practice, take Half Headstand. Keep feet on the floor and work on building strength as you lift your shoulders away from your ears, and keep your hips over your shoulders, as shown here.

If you’ve been holding half Headstand for a while and are ready to move further, practice bending one knee into your chest at a time.

If you are ready to begin balancing, tip both knees up to the ceiling and work on extending legs.

For added support in the neck, place an unfolded blanket over your forearms. Keep some slack in the blanket so your head can press all the way down.

Benefits Develops core muscles, and strengthens the spine, arms, neck, and shoulders. Balances the cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine systems. Combats aging. Oxygenates and increases nutrients to face and scalp. Stimulates the pituitary, pineal and hypothalamus glands, which regulate all glands of the body. Decreases depression, helps headaches, improves circulation, and cleanses the intestines. Diminishes fear, and expands awareness and perspective.
Posture Center

HEADSTAND PREP

English/Sanskrit Head Stand Prep, Salamba Sirsasana

Level Flow

Alignment Come to your knees and lower your elbows to the floor under your shoulders. Interlace fingers into a fist, and keep wrists touching. Place your head to the floor, on your hairline or back about 1 or 2 inches. Tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor, extending your legs. Press into your forearms and lift the shoulders away from the ears. Once your hips are over your shoulders, bend your knees into your chest one at a time. Press into your forearms and lift your knees up to the ceiling. Lengthen hip flexors, and extend your legs all the way up. Flex through the balls of your feet. Modifications If you are new to the Headstand practice, take Half Headstand. Keep feet on the floor and work on building strength as you lift your shoulders away from your ears and keep your hips over your shoulders.

If you’ve been holding half Headstand for a while and are ready to move further, practice bending one knee into your chest at a time, as shown here.

If you are ready to begin balancing, tip both knees up to the ceiling and work on extending legs.

For added support in the neck, place an unfolded blanket over your forearms. Keep some slack in the blanket so your head can press all the way down.

Benefits Develops core muscles, and strengthens the spine, arms, neck, and shoulders. Balances the cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine systems. Combats aging. Oxygenates and increases nutrients to face and scalp. Stimulates the pituitary, pineal and hypothalamus glands, which regulate all glands of the body. Decreases depression, helps headaches, improves circulation, and cleanses the intestines. Diminishes fear, and expands awareness and perspective.
Posture Center

BRIDGE POSE VARIATION

English/Sanskrit Bridge Pose/Half Wheel Variation, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Level Advanced

Alignment From lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor, parallel and inner hips­‐width distance apart. Make sure you can graze your heels with your fingertips. Lift your hips and interlace your fingers behind your back. Draw your shoulder blades under your back and press your chest and hips up. Energetically reach your thighs down and lengthen your tailbone forward between your knees. Modifications If you're experiencing pain in your shoulders, keep your arms apart and press your palms down.

For a more relaxing version, place a block under your sacrum on any comfortable setting, as shown here.

If you have lower back tension or want to place more awareness on using the strength of your inner thighs, squeeze a block in between your thighs and press your hips up.

Do not perform if you have a serious neck injury.

Benefits Stretches chest, spine, abdomen, and thighs. Stimulates abdominal organs and releases stress. Builds confidence for the future.
Posture Center

WHEEL POSE

English/Sanskrit Wheel Pose, Urdhva Dhanurasana

Level Advanced

Alignment From lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor, parallel and inner hips­‐width distance apart. Make sure you can graze your heels with your fingertips. Place your hands in line with your ears, with your fingers facing your shoulders. Press into your hands and feet, and place the top of your head down on the floor. Realign your elbows over your wrists. Press your hands and feet down, and lift your hips all the way up. Keep equal weight in your feet, relax your neck and continue to press your hips up.

Modifications If full wheel is not possible, take Bridge Pose.

If you have lower back tension or to place more awareness on using the strength of your inner thighs, squeeze a block in between your thighs.

Do not perform if you have sciatica or a serious lower back, wrist, or shoulder injury.

Benefits Strengthens arms, wrists, legs and spine, and stretches shoulders, chest and abdomen. Stimulates the thyroid and pituitary glands. Builds confidence for the future.
Posture Center

KING PIGEON POSE

English/Sanskrit King Pigeon Pose, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Level Advanced

Alignment From Down Dog Split, bring one knee forward and place it behind the corresponding wrist. Lay your shin at a diagonal across the front edge of your mat. Align the front heel with your hip. Square your hips forward, and turn your back thigh in. Bend your back knee and reach for your foot with the same hand. Slide your foot into the crook of your elbow and reach your opposite arm straight up. Bend your opposite elbow and clasp your fingers. Square your chest forward and reach your head back. For the full expression of the posture, reach for your back toes with the opposite fingertips. With the same hand, reach for your toes, and arch the crown of your head back to the sole of your foot.

Modifications For the most basic expression of the posture, keep your back leg straight with your fingertips in line with your hips.

For an intermediate expression of the posture, keep your back leg bent and keep the toes in the crook of the same elbow. Clasp your fingertips and square your chest forward.

If you can’t reach your back foot, loop a belt around your foot instead of holding on with your hand.

Do not perform if you have a serious back, hip, thigh or knee injury.

Benefits Stretches thighs, groins, abdomen, chest, neck and shoulders. Stimulates abdominal organs and builds confidence for the future.
Posture Center

KING PIGEON POSE VARIATION

English/Sanskrit King Pigeon Pose Variation, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Level Advanced

Alignment From Down Dog Split, bring one knee forward and place it behind the corresponding wrist. Lay your shin at a diagonal across the front edge of your mat. Align the front heel with your hip. Square your hips forward, and turn your back thigh in. Bend your back knee and reach for your foot with the same hand. Slide your foot into the crook of your elbow and reach your opposite arm straight up. Bend your opposite elbow and clasp your fingers. Square your chest forward and reach your head back. For the full expression of the posture, reach for your back toes with the opposite fingertips. With the same hand, reach for your toes, and arch the crown of your head back to the sole of your foot.

Modifications For the most basic expression of the posture, keep your back leg straight with your fingertips in line with your hips, as shown here.

For an intermediate expression of the posture, keep your back leg bent and keep the toes in the crook of the same elbow. Clasp your fingertips and square your chest forward.

If you can’t reach your back foot, loop a belt around your foot instead of holding on with your hand.

Do not perform if you have a serious back, hip, thigh or knee injury.

Benefits Stretches thighs, groins, abdomen, chest, neck and shoulders. Stimulates abdominal organs and builds confidence for the future.
Posture Center

KING PIGEON POSE VARIATION

English/Sanskrit King Pigeon Pose Variation, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Level Advanced

Alignment From Down Dog Split, bring one knee forward and place it behind the corresponding wrist. Lay your shin at a diagonal across the front edge of your mat. Align the front heel with your hip. Square your hips forward, and turn your back thigh in. Bend your back knee and reach for your foot with the same hand. Slide your foot into the crook of your elbow and reach your opposite arm straight up. Bend your opposite elbow and clasp your fingers. Square your chest forward and reach your head back. For the full expression of the posture, reach for your back toes with the opposite fingertips. With the same hand, reach for your toes, and arch the crown of your head back to the sole of your foot.

Modifications For the most basic expression of the posture, keep your back leg straight with your fingertips in line with your hips.

For an intermediate expression of the posture, keep your back leg bent and keep the toes in the crook of the same elbow. Clasp your fingertips and square your chest forward, as shown here.

If you can’t reach your back foot, loop a belt around your foot instead of holding on with your hand.

Do not perform if you have a serious back, hip, thigh or knee injury.

Benefits Stretches thighs, groins, abdomen, chest, neck and shoulders. Stimulates abdominal organs and builds confidence for the future.