When done properly, backbends have physical and psychological benefits. A few broad strokes of these benefits include: helping maintain a healthy spine, opening the shoulders and chest, countering hunched-over technology posture, energizing mood, and uplifting your spirit! Read on to get ideas on how to take a bend with a friend.
To prepare for deeper backbends, always warm up your spine slowly by mobilizing it in all directions. A free-form cat-cow synced to your own breath is a great way to start!
1. Lie on your mat next to your buddy with feet planted, hips-width apart
2. Lace your palms flat with arms extended reaching towards your feet
3. Raise your pelvis in line with your knees, opening through the upper back by lifting the chest towards your chin.
4. Slowly drop and raise your hips, repeat at least 10x
Once your spine is feeling nice and mobile, you are ready to try our partner upward-facing bow pose.
1. Start the same as for bridge (with feet hips-width and pelvis still on the floor)
2. Plant your hands by your head with your fingertips pointing toward your feet
3. Lift your hips like you are coming into bridge again, then rise to rest on the crown of your head
Check in to align your body before fully extending:
4. Elbows squeezing in with the upper arms firm and engaged
5. Knees are stacked over the ankles and hips are in a neutral rotation (legs are parallel and not splaying out to either side)
6. Tailbone extends towards the thighs, keeping your lower back long
Once your foundation is established
7. Push into your hands, straightening your arms fully
8. Gradually press your chest through your arms, aiming for an even arch through your entire spine.
9. Keep arms engaged and continuously lengthen your spine
10. Hold for 10 breaths or as long as comfortable
Now that you’ve worked your upper body and opened up your shoulders, move into our partner camel pose.
*Be cautious not to crunch your lower back!
1. Kneel facing your buddy with thighs touching
2. Press into each other’s thighs, keeping your hips stacked over your knees – your friend’s thighs act as a wall assisting in this alignment!
3. With your hands at your heart, lengthen and reach backward from your upper back
4. Move up and over by lengthening through your spine
5. You may be able to rest your hands on your lower back or you may be able to reach your hands to your heels
6. Once you’ve settled in the pose, maintain a dynamic energy by continuing to press your thighs into your friend, and reaching your heart up and back
This partner pose can be a big shoulder opener, so make sure to protect these joints—come out of the pose if your anything feels wrong. This one can take a few tries to get the most out of it. Once in the pose, the standing partner may be able to walk closer to the locust partner’s feet to give more leverage to lift their partner higher as they bend deeper.
1. One partner lies on their stomach in preparation for Locust pose
2. The other partner stands legs apart on either side of the other’s thighs
3. Standing partner squeezes into them with the sides of their feet
4. Lock hands and grip around your partner’s wrists, maintaining a strong hold
5. Move into a backbend using the same up-and-over motion practiced in camel pose
1. Partner working in Locust pose uses pull of the standing partner to assist in lifting their chest
2. Lengthen the lower back and extend through their legs to lift the feet
Ashley Witham & Kelly Prather, Fabletics Graphic Designers