Updated: Aug 11
Backward Extension to the wall Level 3 at Yoga on Tay.
Benefits: opens the chest and shoulders, develops confidence and refreshes the internal organs.
Back bends can leave you energized and feeling confident for days after you practice them. And dropping back into Urdhva Dhanurasana adds a whole new dimension to the pose.
Before you start you will need to be able to push up into Urdhva Dhanurasana away from the wall, with the elbows extended and stable.
To learn ‘drop backs’ we first extend backwards to the wall.
1) Standing Back Arch
Master this ‘standing back bend’ before you take your hands to the wall:
In order for the spine to be soft and supple your legs must be strong and stable, helping you to maintain a strong connection with the earth. (That connection is what will eventually allow you to soar back up and out of your backbend to standing.) If the legs are not firm, the spine will harden, making it difficult to bend.
Stand in Tadasana with your palms on your waist.
Plant the outer edges of your feet and your heels to the floor.
Straighten your legs: firm your kneecaps.
Keeping your eyes wide open, lift your chest and coil the points of your shoulder blades into your back. Draw your sternum bone up to the ceiling.
Now slide your hands down to your hips, thumbs on sacrum.
Roll your shoulders back and lengthening up through the side body to the armpits. With a big lift through the back ribs, take your head back to look behind you. To continue slide your hands down to the middle buttock, then to the buttock crease. You can also press the backs of your hands against the backs of your thighs, as you curve over.
When you can't bend back anymore with straight legs, allow the knees to bend.
You can go through and fully explore this process many times before you reach your hands to the wall.
2) Extending to touch the wall and come back
Extending to touch the wall
Stand in Tadasana about two or three feet away from and facing out from the wall with your feet separated to the outer edges of the mat.
Lift your chest and side ribs, and coil your shoulder blades in.
Draw your sternum bone up to the ceiling, as before.
Raise your arms and curve your palms back toward the wall. Slide your shoulder blades further down your back.
Extend your arms fully to touch the wall behind you. Return to standing by pressing your heels down (as opposed to pushing away from the wall with the hands) and repeat.
Progression in the pose: walk the hands down and up the wall.
Very important point: do not allow the feet to turn out as stresses the lumbar spine in the pose. Roll the inner thighs back and move the middle of the buttocks in. Extend back to the wall. Begin by walking down a little bit, and then coming up.
Each time you walk down, lift the side ribs and chest more, and move the tailbone in. Curve the front ribs up and around towards the upper back ribs. Maintain the lift of the sternum bone using the support of the shoulder blades as you walk back up. Practice returning with the hands further down the wall in stages.
3) Urdhva Danurasana
In time, walk further and further down the wall until you can perform Urdhva Dhanurasana with your hands on the floor and your feet underneath you.
Periods, pregnancy, high blood pressure.
For problems with sacrum, back shoulders or neck speak to a senior teacher.
Thanks to our model, Jo and teachings from Geeta Iyengar in creating this pose of the month.
If you would like to try a class at Yoga on Tay, we would love to welcome you. We have a wide range of levels available. You can view our timetable or contact us to discuss which class might be best for you.