Backbending feels great to me… up to a point. I have a long way to go, but here are some variations that I really love. I use a medicine ball but you can use some pillows or yoga blocks. The medball is great because it is both round and squishy so it gives some shape to your back bend but also real gentle support. It’s easy to stay here for a long time because it’s so comfortable.
The first move is called setu bandha sarvangasana. You lie down with the ball under your sacrum and lower back. You keep your head and shoulders gently resting on the floor and bend your knees and plant the feet flat on the floor. Your finger tips should be able to touch the back of your heels. If you wanted to you could hold on to your ankles. Breathe deeply and draw your shoulder blades together and down away from your ears. The breath should lift the belly toward the ceiling and the chest toward the chin. Most people tend to push their feet forward, but instead you should be gently engaging the hamstrings and trying to pull your heels back toward your buttocks.
The second move is a half hero pose or ardha virasana. Pull one of your feet back to your butt and place the toe nails on the ground. Rock forward until your knee comes to the ground. The ball will roll up to support your midback. Your head may or may not touch the ground. If it bothers your neck then support your head with a pillow or yoga block. If this is too intense, you can stay in first stretch. If you able to stay in this stretch for at least a minute before switching legs.
Lastly, if you want to, try bringing both feet back and stretching both legs simultaneously. This is called supta virasana. I prefer to do this stretch with my back supported so I get a better stretch in the chest and abdominals. Some people try to lie down flat on the floor which is a more intense stretch in the quads and hip flexors. Either one is fine. Take your time coming out of this stretch because you may feel lightheaded.
Here are the rules for the 30-Day Stretch Fucking Harder Challenge. Each day do the deep stretch, post it on Instagram and tag some friends to do it with you. Post your stretch with the tags: #stretchfuckingharder #supplepandas #30daypandachallenge Tag me @coachpanda. Come back here to my website or vimeo channel to see more details on each stretch and modifications and scaling options. Try to stay in each stretch for at least 2 minutes per stretch per side. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply and start gradually and move deeper over time. Back off if it hurts.