Have I mentioned that the wall is my favorite yoga prop? Maybe once or twice? Yeah, I suspect that you knew that. Anyways, I’m sure I’ll eventually talk about other propped poses, but for today I’m sticking with the wall and how to use it for back bends. I’ve already shown you how awesome the wall is for wheel pose or king cobra, but the wall is also great for regular cobra pose.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who every came up with this, but I did actually think of it on my own (as opposed to getting it from a book or another teacher), when I realized that I had students in my classes who were not comfortable with putting any weight on their bellies. Buh-bye cobra, sphinx and salabhasana, right? Wrong. I also like teaching these poses in my larger bodies classes because it allows me to transition from standing poses to back bends without having my students get back down on the floor. And since someone always looks like they want me murder me when I suggest getting up and down off the floor (understandable – it can be really stressful on the body), I like having the option to stay upright.
1. Stand about an arm’s length away from the wall. If your heels do not reach the floor, simply walk closer to the wall. Your elbows will bend, which is totally fine since we’re all going to bend our elbows anyways in step 2.
2. Bend your elbows straight back, hugging them into your body and bring your chest towards the wall. I think of these two poses as wall plank and wall chaturanga. If you are working toward chaturanga, this is a great opportunity to practice keeping the elbows close into the body as you bend the elbows straight back.
3. Start to scoop your chest forward and up through your arms, pushing the wall away from you. If it’s comfortable for your neck, you can look up. Depending on how much of a back bend you want, you might start to straighten your arms. If you feel any crunching in your lower spine, back off of the back bend, tuck your tailbone under and try again.
4. Eventually, you might work toward straightening your arms all the wall and coming into a version of upward dog or full cobra.
Like with most of my wall back bends, I appreciate how easy it is to control the depth of the back bend here. You’ll need to play around with it yourself to find the best distance to stand away from the wall and whether or not to look up, but this is a nice accessible way practice cobra. Happy back bending!