We’ve got your back, with Vivre Yoga Wheel!
Here’s our beginner guide to help you stretch and work into those backbends and heart openers you’ve been dreaming about! Backbends is all about front opening – open your shoulders, chest, and hip flexors.
Just remember, you can’t always rush progress.
Thoracic Spine Stretch
The thoracic spine refers to the upper part of the spine that’s around our chest level. It plays a huge part in our everyday lives. Poor thoracic mobility may lead to pain in the neck, shoulders, lower back and hip.
Here’s an easy thoracic spine stretch to help you massage out those tightness and any tension.
Sit tall, with your knees bent and soles of the feet planted on the mat. Place Vivre Yoga Wheel against your back.
Inhale, and as you exhale, roll over and lie down on the wheel, sink your bum down, rest your mid to upper back on the wheel, relax your neck on the wheel, and make sure your chest is lifted up to the ceiling.
Rest for 5 full breathes. Exit the pose by gently pushing yourself against the mat and scoop your neck off the wheel into a seated upright position.
Extended Puppy Pose (Modified Uttana Shishosana)
This modified version of Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana) is a great chest and shoulders opener – highly recommended for those with extremely tight shoulders.
Come into tabletop position, hips stacked directly above your knees, and shoulders stacked directly above your wrist. Place Vivre Yoga Wheel in front of you.
Place your palms on the wheel and straighten out your arms. Slightly sink your hips back towards your heels so that you can stack your hips above your knees when you roll forward into your final pose.
Take an inhalation, and as you exhale, shift your weight and roll forward, keeping your hips high until your hips is stacked above your knees. Keep your arms extended, sink your chest into the mat, press your hands and wrists gently on the wheel to let your shoulders sink into the stretch. Stay here for 3 minutes to really open up your shoulders. Exit the pose by pushing yourself away from the wheel, coming into seated position on your heels.
Massage out those aches by doing a few shoulders rotation and wriggling it out. Don’t worry, it’s just those lactic acid working!
Supported Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) & Plow Pose (Halasana)
Salamba Sarvangasana is said to promote good blood circulation, calm the nerves by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, decrease depression and anxiety symptoms, ease fatigue, and improve immune function.
Coupled with Halasana, it is also a good counter pose for all the back-bending and heart opener asanas.
Lie on your back, bend your knees and plant the soles of your feet on the mat. Place Vivre Yoga Wheel beside your hips region.
Lift up and straighten your legs such that the soles of your feet are facing up towards the ceiling, legs perpendicular to the mat.
Take an inhalation, and as you exhale, send your hips up and wriggle the wheel underneath, placing it on your lower back region such that you can rest your entire bum on the top of the wheel when you bring your legs to be perpendicular to the mat. If you wish, you can balance yourself by grabbing the sides of your wheel with your hand. In shoulder stand, your chin is away from your chest. Stay here for 5 deep breathes.
To get into Plow Pose, keep your legs straighten, flex your feet, lift your bum away from the wheel and lower your leg down towards the direction of your face. Your toes should land on the space above the crown of your head. Stay here for another 5 deep breathes.
Modification: It’s okay if your toes can’t touch the mat, just bend your knees in and have it close to your forehead.
Supported Dhanurasana (Supported Bow Pose)
This is a supported version of the classic Bow Pose, Dhanurasana. It not only help you get into a deeper back-bend by strengthening the upper back muscles, opening up the shoulders, chest and hip flexors. It also helps to massage your digestive organs.
Come into Bhujangasana, full cobra pose, with your wrists directly underneath your shoulders, draw your shoulder blades back, neck is long, pull your naval in towards your spine, top of the feet pressed firmly on the mat and engage the thighs. Look forward. Place Vivre Yoga Wheel in front of you.
Bend at your knees, and bring your heels close to your bum. Re-position the wheel such that it is resting directly comfortably underneath on your breastbone. Keep looking forward.
When you’re ready, start to reach for and grab your ankles from the outside using your hands. Straighten your arms, look up, and stay here for 5 full breathes. Do not crunch in on your neck if you feel the strain. Release by letting go of your ankles back on the mat, and push yourself back onto your heels, coming into child’s pose.
There are times to respect your body, and times to challenge the shapes it wants to make. Be patient, listen to your body, and some day, the poses will come.
Have fun exploring new poses!
Guest writers: Georgia Tan and Myelsa Tay (@myogielsa)