When teaching backbends, the objective of the class is dependent on the level and capacity of the student. The capacity and ability of the student should grow over time in a methodical and reasonable way. Just as it is ridiculous to hang pictures on a wall that doesn't have drywall up, much less plaster and paint, it would be ridiculous to teach a student Viparita Dandasana before they have sound shoulder strength paired with proper mobility learned in Chatooshpadasana.
Here are the sequenced objectives for teaching backbends from the Intro I and Intro II syllabi. Only once an objective is mastered by your students should you introduce the next objective. Each objective may may take weeks, months, or years to master. Not all students will master objectives in the same amount of time; some objectives may take longer than others and it is your job, as a teacher, to challenge your students reasonably, keep their practice safe, and teach your students how to practice safely and productively on their own at home.
Objective I: Shoulder Opening in Standing Poses
For pure beginners who do not know Shoulder Stand/ Salamba Sarvangasana. Learn shoulder opening and strong legs. Introduce keeping the tailbone in.
To see the backbends sequencing for Objective I, click here.
Objective II: Add Parigasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana at Wall, Learn Shoulder Stand
Objective II is for students who have gotten a grasp of standing poses and how to engage their legs, now with the tailbone well in. They should now learn Parigasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana/ Down Dog at the wall, and should now learn Shoulder Stand/ Salamba Sarvangasana at the wall.
To see the backbends sequencing for Objective II, click here: backbends objective II
Objective III: Learn and master Chatoosh Padasana, first introduce after Salamba Sarvangasana (IIIa), then use to prepare for Salamba Sarvangasana (IIIb).
Objective III continues to build on the themes of opening the shoulders with the tailbone in and the thighs back, now translating into and linking directly to our first inversion. Learn to take the armpit-chest and ribs up away from the floor while your press your arms down into the floor. Students should learn to separate those two actions, while keeping the tailbone in. Refine all previous actions.
To see the flow chart for backbends sequencing, Objective IIIa, please click here: backbends objective IIIa
To see the flow chart for backbends sequencing, Objective IIIb, please click here: backbends objective IIIb
Objective IV: Refine previous actions and objectives, now add abdominal work and more true back bends, and parivrttas.
Objective IV acts as the bridge from the Intro I (aka Teacher in Training) syllabus and the Intro II (aka Certified Teacher) syllabus. Students should have a good practice of Chattush Padasana, Shoulder Stand/ Salamba Sarvangasana, and Setu Bhandasana before progressing to Objective IV. Objective IV adds abdominal work poses to the mix. Now that students have a good handle on how to work their legs, we can start playing with the abdominal poses like the boats. All the length and openness created thus far should be maintained, even in the abdominal poses.
While twisting standing poses were introduced early, it is here that the twists are more deeply explored as a tool to prepare for and recover from backbends.
It is also here, in Objective IV, that we carry the basic foundation for backbends (thighs rolling from outside to in/inner spiral/inner rotation, tailbone in, lumbar long) into more obvious backbending poses. We can introduce Urdvha Mukha Svanasana here.
To see the chart for sequencing of backbends, Objective IV, please click here: backbends objective IV
Objective V: Learn Urdvha Mukha Svanasana
Once students have mastered the previous objectives, now they can really work on learning Up Dog.
To see the chart for sequencing backbends, Objective V, please click here: backbends objective V
Objective VI: Learn more intense backbends, prepare for Sirsasana.
To see the sequence chart for Objective VI, please click here: backbends objective VI
Objective VII: Learn Viparita Dandasana in the chair.
To see the sequence chart for Objective VII, please click here: backbends objective VII
Objective IIX: Learn Rope I
Objective IIX is to learn Rope I, and really do it. Students can now learn the dynamic Rope I practice.
At first, Rope I should be after abdominals and before backbends, then after the students get a hang of Rope I, it should go before Salamba Sarvangasana (particularly in forward bend week), then once the students really get a hang of it, Rope I should be practiced before Sirsasana.
To see the sequence chart for Objective IIX, please click here: backbends objective IIX.
Objective IX: Add Salamba Sarvangasana variations
Objective IX is to learn Eka Pada variations in Shoulder Stand. These variations come after Halasana.
To See the sequence chart for Objective IX, please click here: backbends objective IX
Objective X: Take out simple backbends, learn Urdvha Dhanurasana in the chair.
This objective removes simple backbends from the sequence, introduces Urdhva Dhanurasana in the chair, and focuses more fully on Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana.
To see the sequence chart for Objective X, please click here: backbends objective X