PART V: Hip & Shoulder Openerson the Yoga Trapeze
by Lucas Rockwood
The yoga trapeze is an amazing and powerful at-home inversion therapy tool. It allows you to use gravity and your own body weight to improve upper body strength, core strength, flexibility and much more. This month, we’re going to learn some deep hip and shoulder opening poses that feel amazing and will give you dramatic results.
Most everyone struggles with tight hips from sitting too much and not squatting enough. Diamond Pose on the trapeze uses gravity to provide a deep hip opening in a fun, new way. You can think of this like a classic Butterfly Pose practiced on the mat in many yoga classes—only we’re going to do it hanging upside down where you can completely relax and let go.
How to Practice
- Start by sitting comfortably in the trapeze
- Take a firm grip of the longest handles of the trapeze on both sides and lean back slowly until the arms are straight
- Point your toes, lean back further while keeping the strong grip and start to separate the legs in a V-shape (as shown in the photo)
- To move into diamond posture, wrap each leg around the trapeze main sling and bring the soles of the feet to touch—go slowly, look at your feet as you do this
- Next, reach out and take each of the longest handles and extend the arms—you did it!
- Straighten yours arms out like wings and feel the chest opening here—another option is to grab your elbows above the head
- Breathe here for 1-3 minutes, and then release by slowly pulling your torso back up
TIP: Make sure there is a firm hook with the legs and keep a tight grip on the rope with the arms.
Flying Double Diamond
Flying Double Diamond is a deeper, more intense version of Diamond. In addition to providing a gentle hip opening, the posture also provides a powerful shoulder stretch, so it’s a two-in-one experience. This is a fairly advanced posture if you have tight shoulders, so be sure to practice diamond pose first and work towards the full posture when you are ready.
How to Practice
- Start out by sitting comfortably in the trapeze
- Take a firm grip of the longest trapeze straps on both sides and lean back slowly until the arms are straight—feel the weight distribute evenly
- Point the toes, lean back further while keeping the strong grip and start to separate the legs in a V-shape (as shown in the photo)
- Look at your feet and carefully hook your legs around the main trapeze sling straps and bring the soles of the feet to touch—this is the diamond posture!
- Next, slowly move the grip of the hands down the trapeze strap until the hands grasp the handles
- Straighten the arms out like wings to feel the chest opening, and stay here until you feel ready to move to Flying Double Diamond
- If you feel comfortable, bend the arms and bring the hands and elbows to touch behind your head
- Keep a tight grip on the handles and you should feel a deep shoulder stretch
- Breathe here for 1-3 minutes
- Come out of the posture by slowly pulling your torso back up
The Yoga Trapeze can look very intimidating, and new students are sometimes scared to try it. The truth is, the Trapeze is very safe, the key thing is to move slowly, watch your feet when you’re upside down, and perhaps work with a partner when you’re first learning to get comfortable upside down. The benefits of inversions include increased circulation, relaxation, elevated mood, strength and flexibility.
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