I called this pose “Crazy Pose” long before I heard it had a name. Others (Seane Corn, Shiva Rea, etc.) call it “Wild Thing.” Both names hint at its unconventional nature.
Wild Thing can be a deceptively challenging back-bending pose, for a number of reasons.
First, some ways of entering it make it a whole lot easier to find your way on your first attempt. If you try to just drop into it from a high downdog, it’s a little scary the first time. Work up to that, if you want, but not on your first try.
Second, if you—or your students—are stiff in backbend, then this will be a tough pose to enter easily and all kinds of chaos can happen. Back foot placement is important, where you want to direct your hips is important and the engagement of the bottom arm, sidebody and lats is important.
My teaching partner, Tania, finds this pose especially challenging to gracefully enter and exit. Once she’s there she loves it though. Not coincidentally, she is a little stiff in her backbends. Once she’s there, she can recruit all her strong muscles to hold the pose in place. It’s just the transition into and out of it that’s tough.
So don’t just toss this one at your beginner students and let them flounder. Do a demo first then talk them through each step, like this:
- From one-leg downdog, drop your hips towards the mat (high plank position).
- Look for where your lifted foot is going to land. Pick a spot close to the outside of the mat. Too far away will feel super awkward.
- Swivel onto the outside edge of your weight-bearing foot.
- Land the floating foot by bending your knee and reaching into the back space.
- Immediately strengthen the weight-bearing leg and press the hips towards the center of the mat and upwards simultaneously.
- Make sure your weight-bearing arm and shoulder are not twisting in a weird way. Use your lats to lift some weight out of that shoulder by engaging them and lifting the underside of your body up.
- Create the back arch by lifting your heart, reaching your top arm up and way back, following it with your eyes.
- Drop your head back only as far as is comfortable.
Ideally Wild Thing is a pose best shared with students who have a solid yoga base as well as body and breath control.
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