PART VI: Wild Yoga Trapeze Inversions

by Lucas Rockwood

Inversions are often referred to as the “queen” of all yoga poses because they have so many healing benefits; but for students new to yoga, or just new to inversions, they can be quite challenging. Most students only spend a few seconds in inversions during yoga classes, so they don’t get as many benefits as they would with long hold practices.

The Yoga Trapeze is an amazing tool for learning and practicing inversions, safely and for long periods of time—even if you are just a beginner. When you use gravity and passive stretches, it can also be a great way to strengthen and lengthen your body simultaneously. This month, we’ll explore some fun and challenging variations of classic back bending postures. Let’s get started…

The “Trapeze” Pigeon





Pigeon on the trapeze uses gravity to provide a deep hip opening, upper back, and chest flexibility. Instead of using the weight of your body on the mat, pigeon on the trapeze adds a unique twist where the entire process happens upside down. In some ways, it’s easier; in other ways, it’s more intense.

How to Practice

  • Sit comfortably in the trapeze

  • Take a firm grip on the longest set of handles

  • Separate the legs in a V-shape, as shown in the photo, and lean back slowly until yours arms are straight

  • Look at your toes so you can see what you’re doing, and then bend your right knee and bring your leg out and over the front of the trapeze hooking your foot on the opposite side (see photo)

  • Only once you’re comfortable here (it might take many days), the next step is to bend your left leg deeply, and hook your left foot on the inside of your left elbow

  • Lastly, reach back and clasp hands in a Trapeze Pigeon Pose

  • This is an intense posture, so if you get stuck at any of the steps along the way—that’s just fine—take your time and move at your own pace

  • Hold this for 1-5 minutes, then release the way you came in, repeat on the other side

 

The Jack Knife

Jack Knife provides another deep hip, shoulder, and chest opening practice—but in a slightly different and deeper variation. For students working toward a full pigeon or “king pigeon” pose on the mat, this can provide tremendous benefits. Since this is such a deep pose, be sure to move at your own pace. Listen to your body, and be careful.

How to Practice

  • Sit comfortably in the trapeze

  • Take a firm grip on the longest handles on the trapeze

  • Separate the legs in a V-shape, as shown in the photo, and lean back slowly until yours arms are straight

  • Bend your knees deeply, and lower as far back as you can go

  • Next, look up as you bring your right leg up, and double wrap it around the outside of the main sling (see photo)

  • Keep your left leg bent deeply always, and the final step is to now reach back with your arms and interlace your hands around your left ankle

  • Kick into the leg and let your chest open and expand

  • Breathe deeply here and relax for 1-3 minutes

  • Release the same way you came in, and then switch sides

Yoga Trapeze!

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