Bodyweight TV Flexibility & Mobility

Yoga Back Bends – A Safe Progression

Written by Ryan Murdock

Modern life has declared war on your back.

Okay, I admit that may sound a bit dramatic. But we do spend more and more of our time hunched over a desk, slouched in front of a TV screen, or bent double in a half-sized economy class seat. Live for too long in that position, and over the course of months and years your body stiffens up and remains that way.

The natural counter to constant forward flexion is to bend in the opposite direction. But be careful! Performed incorrectly, backbends can result in injury. Done properly, they’re a great health-promoting exercise.

We receive a lot of questions about backbends here on the blog. And so we flipped through the BodyweightCoach rolodex (does anyone even have those anymore???) and brought in our resident yoga expert to put the question to rest once and for all.

Kris Fondran is an exercise physiologist and certified yoga instructor, and she’s put together a safe, incremental progression that you can use to work up to full bridge or wheel pose.

If you follow her cues, you can be sure that the next time the boss asks you to bend over backwards, you’ll do so with ease.

Once again, your progression is:

  1. Simple back bend
  2. Cobra pose
  3. Shoulder pose

Each movement has several important performance cues associated with it, so be sure to study the video closely before you attempt these movements.

And as always, post any questions in the comment section and we’ll ask Kris to stop by and answer them.


About the author

Ryan Murdock


  • I appreciate the yoga videos, too. Your friend here, Kris, did a good job of both selection of poses and instruction. As an avid student of a yoga studio with detailed teaching, I appreciate proper instruction of all the pertinent points of yoga poses and Kris does this well. All we do in our fun “meat and potatoes” workouts, the strength and gnarly-stuff exercises is ought for naught without a yoga practice IMO.

  • I never thought I would like yoga, but since I was introduced to you guys and CST, I realized how yoga can help. Thanks and keep those videos coming.

    I have a request if you don’t mind, I’d like to exercises to release tensions in my wrists, should, forearms from typing on the computer all day. Thanks.

    • Hey Alan,
      Thanks 🙂
      If you do a search for Desk Jockey in the “Looking For Something?” box at the top of the page you should find some of the things you’re looking for.

  • Another quality, detailed breakdown of how to progress in a movement. I’m working -slowly :-)- towards ‘wheel’ and will be using this to increase my back strength and mobility. As much as i’d love to emulate Kris’s grace and ability I’ll plod on at my pace and these snippets of info are sometimes the inspiration I need to move on that little bit extra, so thanks and keep them coming!

  • Thanks so much for this, love the cues. I think back bending is one of the most underrated exercises among men, it’s almost rare to see a guy be able to safely and properly do a full wheel. I love adding in CST style threaded scorpions and back bend pushups. For intensely fun variety, check out Ido Portal’s stuff on YouTube for detailed progressions of low/high bridging and QDR flows, like his “QDR circles.”

  • The postures I chose were basic but I believe that they will give those who are doing them an idea of where they stand when it comes to evaluating their level of backward flexibility. So many people are going too far too fast when it comes to yoga and becoming sore, injured, and turned off of this great body of physical and mental resources.

    One definition of the sanskrit word “asana” or posture is “steady and easy.” If there is discomfort or a lot of effort being put forth just to get into a posture or to maintain it then the point and many benefits of yoga are missed. When it come to practicing yoga, slow and steady wins the race!

  • First off I want to say awesome blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing. I have had a tough time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there. I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Cheers!

    • Thanks Christy, glad you liked it. I can ask Kris to chime in if you’d like a yoga perspective on writing. Speaking for myself (I’m a professional writer for travel magazines), I find you’ve just gotta get started and write your way into it. The first few paragraphs – sometimes the first few pages – are junk, but getting that out seems to free things up. It’s like exercise. Getting started is the tough part, but once you do it’s easy to keep going. Hope that helps.

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