Healthy backbends require more than flexibility and balance. Moving backwards in your yoga practice can be a very good thing! Reinvent your wheel pose with these 5 dynamic FeetUp exercises to create comfort, space & control in spinal extensions.
Puppy Dog with Prayer Hands
This pose focuses mainly on flexibility. Prayer Hands bring awareness to the shoulder blades and neck as the head gently lowers towards the ground. Puppy Dog stacks hips above knees to place more emphasis on the upper back and arms. Popular modifications to build flexibility include holding a brick/strap between hands or being in Child’s Pose (hips back towards heels).
Forearm Plank to Dolphin
This short flow builds strength and flexibility at the same time. From Downward Facing Dolphin (down dog on forearms), use an exhale to slowly move chest towards hands and chin past the thumbs. Only go as far as you can comfortably return from! Legs too tight? Put a tiny bend in the knees to keep feet firmly planted on the ground.
It’s time for some spinal rotation to help open things up! From Downward Facing Dog, work towards reaching one hand to the opposite foot. Make sure to move slow enough to keep the FeetUp Trainer grounded during the twist. Enjoy a few deep breaths on each side before moving on.
Supported Wheel on Tiptoes
After finding a comfortable shoulder position in Supported Bridge, reach arms up and over to grip onto the wooden frame of your Feetup Trainer. Allow your head to slowly lower back as you gaze towards the rear crossbar. Keep core and back body engaged as you lift hips upward into Supported Wheel. Add tiptoes for a little dash of excitement!
You’re only an arm’s length away from the fullest expression of Urdhva Dhanurasana! Once grounded and secure in the supported version, use a full exhale to evenly press down through hands to extend your arms and lift torso up. Don’t worry about holding the pose. Focus on smoothly moving into and out from Full Wheel with control.
Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. A safe and solid backbend practice is no different! It takes time to open up tight shoulders, hips and back. Go at your own pace, listen to your body and enjoy the ride.