Back bird is an introductory partner balancing exercise of the Acroyoga repertoire. The ‘flyer’ is facing the sky and can be in a V-shape (navasana) or wheel (urdhva dhanurasana), while the ‘base’ is in an L-shape. As the names suggest, the ‘flyer’ is the elevated partner, while the ‘base’ partner forms the foundation of the pose.
How to enter the pose:
Flyer: Stand in front of the base’s hips, facing away from them. Bring the arms behind your back and hold their ankles with the thumbs on the inside of the ankle.
Base: Position your feet on the upper part of the flyer’s hips.
Flyer: Bring your elbows inwards and transfer some of your weight towards the base’s feet.
Base: Bend your knees and reach for the flyer’s elbows. This will increase the safety of the transition. Encourage the flyer to maintain a small spine extension (backbend).
While holding the flyer’s elbows send your heels up towards the sky, lifting them off the floor. Keep your feet above your hips, aiming for straight legs. If due to hamstring flexibility this is not possible, keep the knees bent but place a cushion underneath the lower back to protect the lumbar spine. Avoid shifting the legs towards your upper chest.
If you feel stable, release your hands. How much you will need to flex/point your ankles depends on the flyer’s lower back flexibility and weight distribution. Point your ankles more for flyers who are heavier in the upper body or who have a more lordotic spine.
Flyer: When lifted off the floor there is an instinctive tendency for your legs to want to extend. Try to keep them towards the floor by keeping your knees bent. If you feel confident you can move from a backbend to a V-shape. Make sure you can hold navasana for at least 10 breaths on the floor prior to trying the pose off of the ground.
Base: If the flyer moves to navasana, point your toes a lot more to support their upper body.
How to dismantle:
Base: Bend your knees and reach for the flyer’s elbows. Point your toes to tilt the flyer’s body forward, aiming to place their feet close to your hips. When their feet touch the floor, push their hips to bring them to an upright position.
Back bird pose must be practiced safely to avoid injury. If attempting this pose for the first time, please do so in a class or with the supervision of an advanced practitioner.
Anastasis teaches Acroyoga Open on Monday afternoons at triyoga Soho. To view his schedule and book a class, click here.
Anastasis is also leading a series of special 2-hour Acroyoga classes in Camden on Friday 3rd, 10th and 17th August. For more information and to book, click here.