Air Out Your Heart With These 7 Beginner-Friendly Backbends

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Backbends are overflowing with benefits. And a backbend doesn’t necessarily need to be deep to deliver those benefits. Backbends for beginners are just as powerful as more “advanced” postures.

Whether they’re deep or not, backbends tone your back, stretch and open your spine and shoulders, work your abdominals, and expand your chest and throat. They’re great for aligning your spine and improving posture, particularly if you sit at a desk all day.

Backbends also help open your Heart Chakra (Anahata), which affects your overall sense of well-being, love, compassion, and joy.

Heart Chakra: Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Your Fourth Chakra
 
 

These 7 Backbends for Beginners Offer Extra Heart Opening Benefits:

Start incorporating these backbends for beginners into your practice to experience the many benefits that backbends provide.
 

1. Sphinx Pose (Naraviralasana)

sphinx pose

Let’s try it:

  • Start by lying on your belly with your legs extended long behind you
  • Stack your hands on top of each other and rest your forehead on your hands
  • Release tension in your lower back by lifting one leg about an inch, lengthen it behind you, and then put it back down. Repeat with your other leg
  • Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels
  • Lift your chest off the ground and bring your elbows directly under your shoulders
  • Bring your hands forward parallel to each other and in line with your shoulders
  • Press your forearms into the ground
  • Lift your belly button up toward your spine to support your back
  • Slightly pull your chin down and back to lengthen the back of your neck
  • Keep the top of your thighs on the ground with a slight internal rotation in your legs
  • Press into the tops of your feet and pubic bone
  • Broaden across your chest as you roll your shoulders back and down
  • Gaze straight ahead or down at the ground about 10 inches in front of your mat

 

 
 

2. Supported Fish Pose (Matsyasana Variation)

supported fish pose

Let’s try it:

  • Start in Staff Pose (Dandasana) and grab two yoga blocks
  • Place one block on the ground behind you on its low height where your shoulder blades will rest
  • Place the second block on its middle height where your head will rest
  • Slowly lower yourself down onto the blocks behind you
  • Adjust the shoulder block so that it is supporting underneath your shoulder blades
  • Adjust the head block so that you head feels supported and there is no strain on your neck
  • Bring your arms away from your body with your palms facing up
  • You can leave your legs extended long, or bend your knees bringing the soles of your feet together into a Reclined Butterfly Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) shape
  • Relax and allow the blocks to support you

 

3. Locust Pose (Salabhasana)

locust pose

Let’s try it:

  • Start lying on your belly with your arms down by your sides and your forehead on the mat
  • Your feet can be hip-width apart or closer with your toes together and heels apart
  • Inhale and lengthen your body from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes
  • On your exhale, press your pubic bone into the ground and use your back muscles to lift your head, neck, upper chest, and legs up off the mat
  • Keep your head and neck long and in line with your spine
  • Focus on finding lift and length in your body rather than height off the ground
  • Point or “floint” your feet (half flexed and half pointed)
  • Broaden across your collarbones and firm your shoulder blades into your back
  • Option to clasp your hands behind your lower back
  • Gaze toward the ground in front of your mat

 

4. One-Handed Tiger Pose (Eka Hasta Vyaghrasana)

tiger pose

Let’s try it:

  • Start in Tabletop Pose (Bharmanasana) with your hips stacked over your knees, the tops of your feet on the ground, and your hands under your shoulders
  • Extend your right leg long behind you as you reach your left arm toward the front of your mat
  • Use your core to find stability on your right hand and left knee
  • Bend your right leg and send your foot up toward the sky
  • Allow your back to arch, like in Cow Pose, as you start to bend your back and send your foot toward the back of your head
  • Reach your left hand behind you and clasp the inside of your ankle or foot
  • After grabbing your foot, square off your shoulders to the front of your mat and return your gaze to a point straight ahead of you
  • Find a bit more lift and backbend by pulling your foot away from your head feeling a deeper chest opening as you do
  • Repeat on the other side

 

5. Puppy Pose (Anahatasana)

puppy pose

Let’s try it:

  • Start in Tabletop Pose
  • Walk your hands forward, lowering your chest toward the ground
  • Gently press your palms into the ground to activate your arms, keeping them shoulder-width apart
  • Keep your hips stacked over your knees and your knees hip-width apart
  • Release tension in your neck and rest your forehead or chin on the ground or a blanket
  • Find length through your spine and more opening in your chest by crawling your hands forward a bit more
  • Stretch through your arms while sending your hips back slightly toward your heels
  • For a deeper stretch, place your hands up on yoga blocks and allow your chest to sink lower toward the floor

 

Ready to take your backbends to the next level? Here’s Your Intelligent 7-Step Guide to Access Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana) Safely
 

6. Half Camel Pose (Ardha Ustrasana)

half camel pose

Let’s try it:

  • Start kneeling on your knees. Place them hip-width apart with the tops of your feet flat on the floor
  • Place the palm of your hands on your sacrum with your fingers pointing down
  • Square off your hips and shoulders so they are aligned over your knees
  • Inhale and lengthen through your spine as you point your tailbone down to the ground
  • Exhale and roll your shoulders back as you press your hips forward
  • Arch your back and move your right hand from your hip to the heel of your right foot
  • Lift your chest up toward the sky
  • Extend your left arm straight toward the sky or slightly overhead
  • Keep the back of your neck long, and gaze up
  • To release, slowly lift your chest back up, stacking it over your hips and knees
  • Repeat on the other side
  • For a variation, try stepping one foot forward to a 90-degree angle (like in a lunge) before arching back

 

 
 

7. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

bow pose

Let’s try it:

  • Start by lying on your belly with your legs extended long behind you, hip-width apart
  • Bring your hands to the ground by your hips with your palms facing up
  • Bend your knees, drawing your heels toward your glutes
  • Reach back with both hands and either loop a yoga strap around your ankles or grab your ankles themselves
  • Option to grab your ankles from the inside of your legs for a bit of a deeper stretch across your chest
  • Keep your knees hip-width apart
  • Press your pubic bone into the ground as you lift your lower belly in and up
  • Inhale and press your feet firmly into your hands as you lift your thighs and chest off the ground
  • Continue to lift your heels, thighs, and chest higher as you rock your weight back into your hips
  • Lengthen through your neck and gaze straight ahead
  • Make sure to take some slow breaths while in this pose, breathing into your chest and ribs

 

Craving more? Crack Your Heart Open With These 7 Heart Opening Yoga Poses
 
 

Air Your Heart Out With Backbends for Beginners

Backbends can leave you feeling free, open, and less stressed. They get your heart pumping and make you feel both vulnerable and alive.

Again, you don’t need to do fancy poses to receive the many benefits that backbends offer. These backbends for beginners are the perfect start to crack your heart open and air your heart out completely. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised by the results.

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Tonya is a RYT-200 yoga teacher at Loft Yoga, BSL in Bay St Louis, Mississippi. She loves that she gets to share the joy and healing that yoga brought to her life. In addition to teaching yoga, she flips houses with her husband. Outside of work, Tonya is a travel enthusiast who loves the outdoors and adventure, spending time at the local beach, good wine, geocaching, and playing with her three dogs.

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