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Studio-type Yoga classes

Backbend Sequence May 31, 2014

Backbend Sequence

GPS waypoint: 6°08'15.6"N 125°10'17.6"E
Location: Marichi Yoga House, Gen San City, Philippines Class Date: May 31, 2014

When Helen of Marichi Yoga House asked me to teach the Intermediate Yoga class, I thought about doing a backbend-focused session. In Veer's element-approach to teaching, backbend would be my Fire element - everything else would revolve around that, and every asana would be a preparation for the ultimate Urdhva Dhanurasana - the Wheel.

Backbend Class

New Sequence
As a general rule, when I have to teach yoga, I develop a new sequence every week - something almost completely different from the weeks before. This takes me about 2 days of research - knowing the corresponding body anatomy involved, different asanas and coordinating what I would call "intelligent sequencing" to weave the myriad of asanas into a seamless flow, and coming up with my cues to ensure the right words come out. This approach creates new yoga challenges for me and prompts me to review the backfiles I recorded with Veer's class, go to the internet for more information, and watch YouTube channels to be better get grounded on how these things are properly done. Altogether, it takes a lot of my time and I get stressed out - but it's all in keepinng with my practice. This blog is also a way for me to document the series of sequencing I will be developing as I pursue my yoga teaching.

Love or Hate
For the most part, backbend is either love it or hate it - understandably. Most of our movements are forward - we sit, we stand up, we walk, etc. So, to reverse this movement could be awkward, uncomfortable and daunting. However, when done correctly, it should feel challenging but quite comfortable.

Backbend Benefits

  • it can cure you out of depression...or lift your spirit up if you're simply feeling down
  • it can stimulate the central nervous system making our thinking more clear and more focused
  • boost your immune system
  • enhance your digestion
  • realigns the spine restoring your posture to its optimum
  • you're only as young as your spine is flexible

Dos and Donts

  • warm up and stretch the front first - when you do a backbend, you're also doing a stretch on the anterior front of the body. But since the front stretches first before the back, you cannot get to a good backbend without first warming up and stretching the full anterior front (quads, hips, abdomen, chest, shoulders)
  • engage the Moola Bandha - the bandha engages the Transverse Abdominis (the deep core abdominal muscle) which in turn pushes against the sacrum and pulls the hip points snugly together, distributing the pressure around the pelvic cavity instead of putting the entire load on the lumbar spine - this avoids nerve pinching
  • inhale while going into a backbend - the air inside our lungs give an added protection to our spine
  • tailbone out, not in - a tucked-in tailbone is biomechanically incorrect for a backbend


  • downward dog - a few breaths then slowly walk the hands to the feet into a forward bend
  • hang - fold the arms into the elbows and just hang there, doing nothing, letting gravity do its work
  • Samasthitihi - release the arms and on one long inhale, vertebrae by vertebrae, roll up into standing
  • knee stirring
  • nauli basic - suctioning the abdominal and release, 3x between breaths
  • hip stirring
  • quad stretch

II Heat Movement

  • Surya Namaskar A - 2x
  • Surya Namaskar B - 2x
  • Burpee - jump, snap back into plank, slowly lower to Chaturanga, upward dog, push up, downward dog, jump forward, jump again (5/4/3/2/1x)

III Facedown Backbends

Surya until Downward dog, then
  • Sphinx - 5 breaths
  • Cobra - 5 breaths
  • Upward Dog - 5 breaths
  • Childs pose -
  • Locust - 5 breaths
  • Bow, knees up - 5 breaths
  • Bow, knees down - stretch thorasic spine (5 breaths)
  • Cow pose
  • Vinyasa

IV Faceup Backbends

  • Wild Thing (Kamatkarasana) - flex on exhale, lift up in inhale / 5 breaths
  • Bridge - 5 breaths
  • Fish - 5 breaths
  • Camel, hands on hips - 5 breaths
  • Camel, hands on heels, toes tucked - 5 breaths
  • Camel, hands on heels, toes pointed - 5 breaths
  • Dandasana - counter poses

V Standing Backbends

  • standing side bends - extend the arms up, inhale, right hand grabs the left wrist, and exhale bend to the right. Repeat on the other side.
  • shoulder stretch - with a slight backbend, arms extended up, pull the hands to the back while chest moves forward, stretching the shoulders. Release after 5 breaths.
  • backbend arms up - with arms extended up, inhale and do a backbend, hands reaching as far back, tailbone out. Release after 5 breaths.
  • backbend, hands clasped behind back - clasp hands behind, inhale open chest and shoulders, lift heart out, do a backbend, straighten the arm and try to lift arms up.
  • Dancer's pose - 5 breaths

V Seated Backbends

you can skip everything except the pigeon with backbend as the class will extend over 2 hours
  • Surya, from Downward Dog, lift left heel, big step with right foot, bent right leg and elbows down on mat, hands clasped - 5 breaths
  • broaden distance between 2 feet while right foot remains firmly on the mat - 5 breaths
  • do a split, keeping the hands on both sides against the mat for support - 5 breaths
  • Pigeon - do a backbend, 5 breaths and then go for the forward bend, 5 breaths
  • - slide the bent left leg under the right leg, so right knee over left knee. Eagle pose on hands and bow down, 5 breaths. Release.
  • - clasp hands behind, left elbow pointing up, right elbow pointing down, 5 breaths. Release. Other side.
  • Matsyandrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes) -
  • Vinyasa

VI Fire

  • Bridge - 5 breaths
  • Wheel - 3x
  • Dandasana - counter poses

VII Inversion

  • Handstand on a wall - to find out if they are strong enough for the Hollow Back
  • Hollow Back on wall - workshop style

VIII Partner Backbend

Backbend Sequence
Downward Dog / Backbend
Backbend Sequence
Standing face to face Backbend
Backbend Sequence
Child's Pose / Backbend
Backbend Sequence
Rising Cobra

IX Savasana

Thanks for attending my backbend class, Helen Prieto, Chic Escal, Rj Casabuena, Fate San Pedro and Tet Tesoro.

--- TheLoneRider

Marichi Yoga House, Gen San

How to Get to Marichi Yoga House

Take a tricycle and ask to be dropped off at Western Union near Iglesia ni Cristo in Purok Malakas. Enter the gate where Western Union is, and go up the 2nd floor. P10 from the main city (or P30 if you wish to have a special trip).

Yoga-Sequence Series

Gen San Blogs by TheLoneRider

»» next story: Hearty Street Breakfast at Purok Malakas, Gen San
»» next Yoga story: Abs Yoga: Core Sequence
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