Alignment is critical to all yoga poses as proper form is key not only to gaining all of the benefits of a pose, but also preventing overuse or injury. With the right form, poses flow easily from one to the next and allow you to gain strength and flexibility.
The key elements of proper backbend alignment are the shoulders, chest, back, hips and feet. Always warm up your shoulders, chest, and back before attempting a backbend, and ensure your hips are square and feet shoulder width apart.
To improve your backbend practice, these parts of your body should be stretched individually to warm up before attempting backbends.
Warm-up Stretches with the Yoga Hammock
Here are some simple stretches that will add big impact to your backbends.
- Stand about 2 feet behind your yoga hammock with legs shoulder-width apart. Bend forward at the waist with a straight back and grasp the hammock in both hands. Bend into an L position and gently stretch forward, elongating your shoulders without straining.
- Breathe deep and steady breaths and relax your neck and shoulders on the exhale. Never twist your shoulders; keep them square.
- Move to the front of your yoga hammock, and stand about 1 foot away with your back to the fabric. Reach up with your hands and grab the two sides of the yoga hammock, one in each hand. Your arms should be in a V overhead.
- Stretch your arms backward slightly, and stretch your head and neck up and let your chest move forward. You can step forward for a more intense stretch.
- Your arms should stay completely straight while you arch your back. This will open your chest in preparation for the back bend.
- With your back to the hammock, grab the hammock with both hands. Lean backward into a half backbend, holding onto the fabric with both hands.
- The fabric will support your lower back and you can move your hands further down the fabric for a deeper bend. Gently arch your back and sink deeper with each exhale breath.
Check out our tutorial on the inverted bow pose to try a yoga hammock backbend after you've mastered the above stretches.