"Backbend" for convenience sake but really we should be thinking of these as perhaps spine lengtheners we want to create space in the spine rather than compression. Here's a nice link to a post at Wild.yogi.com from Simon Borg-Olivier on....
A quick post in response to a couple of recent questions, based on personal experience.... what worked for me personally. Usual cautions apply as in use your common sense, if you'r struggling with urdhva dhanurasana(bridge) it may be that you need to spend more time with more gentle back stretches before attempting it. Other areas to work: build strength in the hands and arms in the surys for example to help protect your wrists, strengthen your legs and 'core' so your arms and shoulders aren't doing all the work plus all those navasanas will ultimately help protect your back. Dwipada pitam vinyasas (desk poses) may be useful.
Anyone who practices Ashtanga second series as well as Primary will I imagine tell you that urdhva dhanurasana (bridge)and the dropbacks/coming up feel so much easier after 2nd series than after Primary.
It's not rocket science, an hour and a half of predominantly forward bends is not ideal preparation for then forming a bridge (Urdhava Dhanurasana). Second series however has all those delicious backbends from the lengthening of salabhasana up to Kapotasana.... Urdhva Dhanurasana after 2nd is a walk in the park by comparison.
One way around this of course is to make the most of the back stretches we do have in in Primary, twenty odd upward facing dogs, I seem to remember David Williams used to recommend five breaths in each one.
If you're lucky enough to be a home practitioner you could try running through some postures from Vinyasa Krama Bow sequence. It's a mistake to get too tied up with the idea of sequence as far as Vinyasa Krama is concerned, the sequences are pedagogic tools, teaching tools, there to show us possible relationships between asana. It's probably much better to think of them as subroutines rather than sequences. The Ashtanga sequences of course are Vinyasa Krama as Sharath has been pointing out recently, they are collections of subroutines brought together in a relatively fixed sequence.
So my suggestion if you'r working on your UD, urdhava Dhanurasan (bridge) is that before you move into UD you run through a little Makrasana ( crocodile), Bhujangasana (cobra), Salabhasana (locust) and Dhanurasana (wheel). Just pick a couple of variations from each, the easier ones, don't worry about staying too long a breath or two moving in and out of them is plenty and don't worry about a vinyasa (jump back/through) between them, just run through them and then see if that helps your urdhva Dhanurasana.
This can be ideal for the winter months too when your practice room might be a little colder.
Here's the practice sheet from my practice book divided into subroutines, as I mentioned skip the more challenging variations here and treat these today as preparation exercises rather than asana.
The first part of this video looks at the Bow variations.
If you enjoyed practicing these Bow exercises as preparation for UD. you may like to explore them as asana in a more typical Vinyasa Krama practice with long, slow inhalations and exhalations. One approach might be to practice your Sury's (and perhaps some of standing) or a short tadasana sequence then work through some or all of the bow sequence, feel free to skip the more challenging ones in each subroutine. Some or all of the asana and subroutines in the meditative sequence built on vajrasana that leads up to kapotasana may be another option. Finish with a long paschimottanasana and either your regular shoulder and headstands or a more vinyasa krama approach to the same asana with some vinyasas. End with padmasana or perhaps maha mudra, baddha konasana then padmasana. A little nadi sodhana pranayama, and a short sit would turn it into a more integrated practice. See my Srivatsa Ramaswami resource at the top of the blog or just do a google search for any of these terms with grimmly in frount and you should find a post or eight EG grimmly meditative sequence
Here's a nice exercise if you're trying to get your shoulders further over your hands in Urdhava dhanurasana is to put your head near the wall, lift up and then try to take your chest up and over towards the wall, worked for me.
Below is a screenshot from an old 2010 dropback exercises video I made and here's a link to my dropback progress post with videos from 2010 to last year in Japan. http://grimmly2007.blogspot.jp/2009/03/dropback-progress-jan-09-to-present-inc.html The idea of that post was that you would find something that looked like where your own dropback is then check the date and go to the archive on the right of the blog to find post that might show how i moved to the next video.
|Screenshot from 1:50|
And the video the above shot is taken from
And below some more dropback exercises