If you have been following me for a while you would know that I am more of a splitty girl and not a backbender. I decided to find an expert that can tell us about their contortion backbends and how to approach progressions to advanced poses. Jamie Langridge pictured above is a mind blowing expert on backbends. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to interview him.
“I was 15 years old when I started contorting however I always been bendy especially in my back and legs. Friends and family always noticed not only could my body bend in different but my skin also stretches. When I was older diagnosed with the hEDS. This means that my skin stretches.”
“My journey into back bending started by copying a yoga and stretching book. I continually did these movements until I could do the poses.
Wanting to take my flexibility to another level I looked up “contortionist” on the internet and began copying the contortion poses. “
“I think it’s important to seek a trainer on depending what your goals are but they are helpful regardless as they can point out what you need to improve on. “
“I like assisted stretching at times however I personally feel it should be your accomplishment and it should be you doing as much of the work as possible.
Assisted stretching can often go wrong. This is because they don’t know your body well enough to be putting you into these extreme poses.
I have seen this happen a lot of times and unfortunately and the contortion careers of the artist come to an end. “
“As long as you train safely, warm up correctly you should be able to have a long career in the art of contortion. Warming up is always as important as your body changes as you get older.
Just remember that its easier to prevent an injury than recover from one.
Like any career I have had some fantastic times but not so great times but I kept pursuing it as I love it so much and I wanna keep at it for as long as possible. I always advise anyone if they get contacted or meet a trainer who wants to train them I would do your research on them:
At the end of the day I always say it’s your body and you only get one back so you need to look after it!”
“I love my back fold, and triple fold.”
“Contortion is about control when doing a pose or a training exercise such as a waterfall. Strength and control are just as important as flexibility.”
A few of my exercises include:
I just wanted to say a big thank you to you Jamie from myself and my readers your insight was very helpful.
With Jamies insight into back bending lets begin to look at yoga progressions in order to start moving into beginner and intermediate contortion poses.
There are a few considerations that need to be addressed before you start a back bending practice.
A swayed back is a sign of weak abdominals and performing backbends can make the swayed back worse. Before working on your back bending program ensure that you strengthen the core and hamstrings. You will need to stretch out the glutes and quadriceps. I have wrote a whole program on how to fix anterior pelvic tilt. Try this program for at least six weeks three times a day before starting on a backbend program.
Caillet and Gross believe that some arching is ok, although they claim hyperextension can cause injury to lower lumbar discs and spinal joints. How ever if you train correctly this can be avoided.
From my yoga instruction background I know that you should never have any compression in the spine or joints when performing backbends. It is the training of lengthening and extending. Not crunching.
A study of gymnasts and an age matched control group showed that the gymnasts did not have any more back problems than the controlled age matched group.
Starting with beginner poses and working your way up will dramatically decrease the risk. Start with poses such as cobra, upward dog and chest lifts in order to build strength and flexibility.
The back bending sequencing for each level are:
Camel and Pigeon are two of the main core poses to start with when working towards king pigeon. Camel increases your back flexibility, opens the chest, hip flexors and shoulders. It strengthens the core in order to support the bend.
Pigeon opens the glutes, hamstrings and relieves tension in the lower back. We need to have flexible and strong quads in order to balance and support your body when you are working towards King Pigeon pose.
King pigeon is not a beginner pose, although it is a good one to work towards when you are just starting out. This pose requires that you have good strength and flexibility in the quads, glutes, abdominals, as well as open shoulders.
This training regime for Kapotasana is stellar! I couldn’t have written it better myself. To work on getting this deep backbend make sure that you practice three times per week every week.
If you are training for the triple fold then you are way more advanced than me! The ‘warm up’ poses in this training video is life goals for me. If this is something you can do shoot me an email I would love to interview you.
To start training for bridge pose also known as wheel there are a few poses you will want to master before hand.
In contortion you generally have back benders and front benders. Many contortionists generally just train back bends and not front bends in the same session.
Coming from a Hatha yoga background we were trained to always train the opposing line in the body in order to keep balance and harmony in the body. Meaning if you train backward folds you need to train forward folds too.
I personally see no harm in throwing in a few cats and cows as well as child poses to help neutralize the spine.
Did you know that training backbends can increase your energy levels? This is because the backbends excite the nervous system and produce more oxygen and increasing the blood flow.
I hope you enjoyed my post on contortion backbends. Would you like me to interview more contortionists?
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