Flip the grip is one of those elusive yoga moves that can keep yogis from going deeper in a backbend. The full, revolved shoulder movement isn’t often taught in public classes because, well—it’s just really hard! I’ve discussed using a strap as a prop in many of my Challenge Blogs, and encourage students to use a prop until they have the flexibility to reach back and comfortably grab the foot.
Once you’re regularly walking your hand or hands down to your foot, it’s time to flip the grip! Use this step-by-step-guide as a way to hopefully ease your way to the full backbend. This rotation applies to many deep backbends such as King Dancer, One-Legged King Pigeon (shown) and Intensified Bow Pose AKA Padangustasana Dhanurasana.
How To Flip Your Grip In Backbends
Use in any seated or standing backbend:
A. Always reach back with your palm up and your elbow bent. This keeps the shoulder in the socket and relaxes your upper trapezius. Flex your foot and grab the toenail side of your pinky toe. Progressively grab more until you get to your big toe. If possible, grab the big toe edge of your foot.
B. Once you have a nice grip, take a big inhale. As you exhale begin to rotate your elbow out, in and up.
C. Point your elbow directly upward towards the sky. Drop the shoulder into the socket and relax the base of your neck. Keep your sternum lifting.
D. Let your head fall back as the heart continues to rise. Reach your second arm up, bend the elbow and reach back to grab your opposite wrist, hand or foot.