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Yoga Drop Backs for Beginners

About Yoga Drop Back Transitions

A yoga drop back is the transition from a standing backbend into a wheel pose. It demands that the body be very strong and agile to move from an upright shape to a deep backbend from the ground.
This transition is best performed slowly with deep breaths and a focused gaze. The wall or blocks under the hands are tools to progress from a standing backbend through a yoga dropback. 

A yoga dropback is an advanced shape that requires a strong back, core, legs, and focus. This post covers the benefits of backbends, helpful transitions, class playlists, and courses to strengthen and open the body for heart-openers and the energy associated with expressing the frontline. 

Read on to review how to safely move into a yoga drop back and see the collections on the Practice with Clara Apps to assist you in your practice. New members get the first 7-days free.

Yoga Drop Back Tutorial
How to move into a yoga drop back:
  1. Wheel on the ground using yoga blocks under the hands
  2. Wheel against the wall with blocks under hands at the wall.
  3. Standing backbend against the wall with hands on the wall.
  4. Standing backbend with hands at the waist, thighs, or calves.
  5. Drop back from standing backend to wheel pose.

Benefits of Backbends on the Body

Excitatory for the nervous system.

Backbends stimulate the adrenal glands to boost energy. The adrenal glands are associated with the body’s fight-or-flight response and produce hormones that regulate metabolism, blood pressure, and the immune system. Due to the spine’s arch, when we perform backbends in yoga, it may increase the force around the adrenals and stimulate the release of additional adrenaline into the body’s system. Too much adrenaline keeps us feeling awake and alert. 

Strengthen the back body.

Backbends demand that the muscles along the entire back and front lines engage in supporting the spine. The main muscle groups targeted in a backbend include the legs, buttocks, back, core, shoulders, and chest. The muscles targeted in a backbend include the gluteals, psoas, hamstrings, quadriceps, erectors, abdominals, lats, and trapezius muscles. 

Opens the front body. 

Backbends articulate the spine and create space in the front body, specifically in the muscles strained by sitting all day. The abdomen, chest, shoulders, and pelvis are all expressed to lengthen the muscles around the area—backbends aid in developing good posture and creating space to breathe around the heart and lungs.

Fruit (30-mins) Lila Flow

A playful Lila Flow yoga class features core and back strengthening to prepare the body for deep backbends with side plank variations.

Twists, lunges, side body lengthening, and quad stretches prepare the body for heart-opening.

Tips to Prepare and Strengthen the Body for a Yoga Drop Back

A strong core is essential for a yoga drop back. The core extends from the front body to the sides of the abdomen, where the oblique muscles assist with lateral movement and rotation. The back body also supports drop backs and the agility of the spine. 

A yoga drop back demands that the feet stay rooted and the legs strong as the torso, arms, and head move up and back. Balance is required to progress slowly and easily into the fullest expression from a yoga drop back into the wheel pose. 

Drop backs require that the spine engages in deep extension. A strong and supple spine is essential to the body’s overall health, mobility, and longevity. 

Before initiating a yoga drop back, developing a back bending practice with other forms of backbend from the ground or standing may create the space and stability to go deeper. Locust pose, camel pose, wheel pose, cobra pose, heart pose, bow pose, supported fish pose, standing backbend, and dancer pose are all examples of active and passive backbends. 

Show up to your yoga mat each day with the intention of doing a short meditation, movement, or mantra practice. Repetition helps improve muscle-cell memory; it’s how we learn and strengthen the neural pathways in the brain. Repeating the same yoga postures can enhance speed, confidence, and strength.

How to Safely Set Up for a Yoga Drop Back

  • Use the support of a wall or blocks as you progress.
  • Take your feet wider than hip distance. 
  • Keep the toes pointing forward, not outward, to maintain a connection to the inner lines of the legs to activate the core. 
  • Bend the knees generously.
  • Take your hands to your lower back and ensure the tailbone is angled toward the ground.
  • Draw your pubic bone towards your rib cage to activate the pelvic floor muscles and deep core stabilizers. 
  • Lift the chest and draw your shoulders onto your back close to the spine.
  • Keep your hands on your back, or explore walking the palms to the glutes, hamstrings, or calves. 
  • Arch through the upper chest; lead with the heart and lift the sternum (the breastbone) upwards even as you arc back and down to the ground. 
  • Lead with your gaze and find a Drishti (something solid) to hold it.
  • Breathe deep and move slowly.
  • Press down through the center of each heel to root through the leg lines.
  • Reach your arms toward the ground with the palms flipped so your fingers face your torso as you lower yourself toward the floor.
Drop Back (61-mins) Vinyasa

An advanced vinyasa practice features core and back body strengthening to prepare you for the peak flow.

Move through Anuvittasana (standing backbend) and drop back into Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel pose).

Energy Associated with Backbends

A yoga drop back, like all backbends, requires surrender and receptivity. The front line of the body is the most vulnerable. It is where our heart and primary organs reside. Backbends ask that we release tension, breathe deep, and connect to the heart’s energy. To offer the heart and belly in such a way is very exposed.

Backbends are very uplifting and energizing. It may bring up intense emotions or excitatory sensations. Heart-openers connect the practitioner to the energy and emotional capacity of the heart chakra where love, compassion, empathy, grief, and acceptance reside. 

A few questions to sit with before or after a heart-opening class: 
  • How would you define surrender
  • What is your relationship to surrender? 
  • Where in your physical body is it easeful to surrender?
  • Where in your body do you find it easy to soften and let go?
  • Where in your body is it a challenge to surrender? Soften? Let go?
  • Can you let go of your expectation of what is to come? 
  • Can I surrender to the process of exploration? 
  • Can I let go of the outcome? 
  • How can I soften the grip of control?

Seraphina Dawn

Seraphina has a BA in Literature from Simone Fraser University and participated in the Creative Writing Program at UC Berkeley. She is a Kundalini teacher, writer, and poet. She admires Clarice Lispector’s prose, Octavia Butler’s fiction, and Simone Weil's philosophy. Seraphina currently lives in Istanbul. 


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