Backbends & Shoulder Flexibility

I find it counter intuitive that the quality of your backbends is directly related to the flexibility in your shoulders.

After all, the word “backbend” suggests that you bend with your back. Shoulders seem like an unrelated anatomy. But you should give attention to the flexibility in your shoulders if you wish to improve your backbend technique: so that you can bend more from your thoracic spine, rather than your lumbar spine.

Here is one of the sequences that I really enjoyed in the course of Tirisula’s YTT training. It leads you through poses to prep your shoulders before going on to backbends. 

  1. Sun Salutation A x 5 
  2. Sun Salutation B x 5 
  3. Pigeon pose > head down > elbows under ankle > hands on floor and lift chest 
  4. Shoulder opening on wall > place armpits on wall > chin on wall > chest on wall > stomach on wall 
  5. Shoulder opening on floor > chest on floor > bend knee to touch head
  6. Wheel pose > with hands on floor > elbows on floor > touch feet with hands 
  7. Camel pose > move hand to knee > crown to floor > elbow to floor
  8. Transitions > crow to tripod headstand > to chaturanga > to crow 
  9. Headstand variations > lotus pose > backbend to floor > transit to camel pose with elbow to floor 
  10. Side plank > left > centre > right > centre 
  11. Handstand 
  12. Savasana 

I find this sequence helps me get deeper into my backbends. It’s tough and effective. And don’t try this at home unless you’re prepared to get the walls dirty!

Here’s us working on item 4 (shoulder opening on wall – chest on wall) during the YTT course. 







– Vanessa Tang –

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