In this video tutorial, I’m going to show you some work you can do in Urdhva Dhanurasana to not only deepen your backbend, but also to prepare you for the work of dropping back into, and coming up to standing from, a backbend.
First, a little ad 🙂 … if backbends are something you have trouble with, or experience any pain in, I would highly recommend checking out my Principles of Pain-Free Backbending online workshop.
It contains everything I’ve learned about backbends in my 20 years of practicing, and 15 years of teaching. So needless to say, it goes into much greater detail and depth.
In this short tutorial, I want to focus on my backbending mantra: strong legs, soft bum.
We are trying to make the legs strong so they do all the work of extending the hips, and avoid squeezing the bum to help avoid compression in the lower back.
So let’s break it down!
1. Set the tilt of the pelvis in preparation for coming up (anterior tilt).
Starting on your back with your feet hip width apart – like you’re preparing for backbends, create an anterior tilt with your pelvis. Now, this is a small movement, but it can be quite tricky.
You’ll know you’re in an anterior tilt, because the hip bones are going to come forward, and the tailbone is going to drop. When you do that, you should feel a little space beneath your lumbar spine.
So when we lift, we’re going to push down into the feet and try and hold this shape. You can use your hands to check if your bum is soft.
2. Press into the hands, while pushing down through the feet
The next step is coming into wheel. Bring your hands by your ears. As you press into your hands, push the elbows toward the shoulders and come on to the crown of the head.
As you come up into Urdvha Dhanurasana, try and bring your chest over your wrists. You should still be holding that anterior tilt.
Feel free to do a little dance to help soften your pelvis and lighten the mood!
3. Walking in/coming on to the fingertips
Now, when you feel comfortable – well, relatively comfortable – walk your hands in a bit. Do a little more dancing to soften things up a bit, and maintain that anterior tilt!
Alright, here’s where we really strengthen the legs: as you move your weight into your legs, really push into your heels and try coming up onto your finger tips.
You might get a mild burning sensation in the thighs. Don’t be alarmed, that is completely normal, and good! It means your quadriceps are working. And those quads working is what is eventually going to bring you up to standing… but we’ll save that for another video!
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