How to Practice Yoga Back Bends Safely

We all love the wow factor of the backbend yoga poses but we don’t all know how to protect our backs when doing them.  Some tips to keep in mind are:

  1. When you are doing backbends you want to make sure you warming up your shoulders really well. 

  2. You also want to warm-up the hip flexor, the muscle at the front top of your thigh. 

  3. Make sure you have some core strength and that you are working your core muscles. 

  4. Keep the outer edges of your feet parallel. A lot of people dangerously turn their feet out during a backbend pose, which externally rotates your thighs causing unwanted compression in the low back. By keeping your feet parallel you can effectively maintain a neutral rotation and avoid lower back compression. 

  5. Avoid a backbend from just your lower back. Your lower back is the bendiest part of your back. That is the part of the back that wants to do the backbend but that is also the part of the back that is the least stable and gets hurt the easiest!

  6. Do use the hip flexors by bringing the thighs and hips forward and then leaning back from there. 

  7. Shoulder: Bring your shoulder blades toward each other and in toward the front of your body. Then roll the shoulder back. 

If you are not sure what that feels like take your block and put it right in the middle of the back and lay down with the block touching this area. That is the part of the back where you close your shoulder blades. 

In your upper back, you have what’s called your “spine”. Sometimes we develop bad posture and yoga backbends help to flatten out the hunches that may develop.

For example in Camel Pose:

Camel Pose:

To practice and watch any thigh rotation here, place a block between your thighs. Holding this block will keep your thighs from rotating outwards. 

Come to your knees, there should be a straight line from your knee to your head. Place the block between your thighs if you choose to. 

Begin shifting your thighs forward in a “limbo game-like” motion. This motion is also similar to wheel pose, your hips move forward and the upper back is bending backward. 

Then roll the shoulders down and back as you continue leaning back. At the same time imagine that there is a string attached to your chest up towards the ceiling. 

Bridge Pose:

In this pose, focus on the same thing alignment-wise. But on your back.

On your back, bend the knees and place feet on the mat making sure they are parallel. 

Raise the hips

Roll the shoulders back and flatten the upper back. 

Wheel Pose: 

Continue following the backbend principles. 

From the bridge pose, swing the arms overhead. 

Place the palms on the mat. Come onto the crown of the head. Line up your wrists right under your elbows. 

Make sure your feet are parallel. 

Watch your elbows here as well; they also want to go out. Make sure they stay parallel. 

Press up through the hands and feet. Reach the tailbone towards the backs of the knee and press your chest towards the wall you are looking at. 

Be safe and enjoy these fun backbends!

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