How to Do a Backbend in Minutes


The traditional backbend is also known as Full Wheel, Upward Bow pose or Urdhva Dhanurasana. It's an effective way to stretch your abdominal and chest muscles and strengthen your back, leg, arm and butt muscles. By practicing backbends you will stimulate the proper function of your thyroid and pituitary gland. Classified as a heart opener in yoga, this pose is known to be extremely effective at increasing energy levels. So when you're feeling down or low on energy, practice this pose and get yourself up and going.

Things You'll Need

  • Yoga mat
  • Wall

Prepping For Backbends

  • Place your yoga mat perpendicular to the wall. Lie on your back with your head facing the wall and your toes pointing away from the wall. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet on the floor.

  • Place your feet hip-width apart with your heels as close to your butt as possible. Bend your elbows and place your finger tips underneath your shoulders with your forearms by your ears. Move back toward the wall so your elbows touch the wall.

  • Inhale and push into your feet. Engage your quadriceps and lift your hips off the floor. Exhale and pause.

  • Inhale and lift your chest as you bring the crown of your head onto the floor. Make sure you are supporting your weight with your arms, not your head. Exhale and pause.

  • Inhale and push your elbows into the wall. Lift your head off the floor. Use the wall as support.

  • Activate your chest muscles to maintain your elbows drawing in toward each other, shoulder-width apart. If you can, straighten your elbows completely. If your elbows are away from the wall, they are complete straight.

Tips & Warnings

  • Before practicing any yoga pose, make sure to warm up your body for at least 15 minutes. Jogging, walking or Sun Salutations will do the trick. Also, make sure to keep your inner thighs active in backbends. The feet and knees tend to splay out and this constricts the low back. To assist you with this action, ask someone to place a block in between your knees when you are up in the backbend. This will help you keep your knees hip-width apart. If your abdominals and chest muscles are really tight, you can come to the balls of your feet in the backbend. This will give you a little more space, assisting you in the pose.
  • If you have serious back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome or abnormal blood pressure, discuss this pose with your physician before you start practicing backbends.

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  • Photo Credit Marili Forastieri/Lifesize/Getty Images
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