Gravity training - hangman

Hangman, July 2021

Hangman, July 2021

Lucas who created Yogabody calls this position ‘hangman’. This stretch of the shoulders is part of the gravity training. When the upper body and the shoulders are stretched back bending asanas become easier.

How to do hangman?

Lie on your belly. The head must touch the wall first. Then crawl up the wall with your hands. Pose them a bit wider than shoulder width at the wall. Let the head hang forward. It intensifies the stretch. Don’t hold onto anything. This would tighten the muscles. Instead press the hands against a flat wall. The arm pits move forward. Hold this pose for five minutes. If possible.

My pranayama teacher in India used to say: Practice according your capabilities, but not beyond. When the body starts trembling it’s too much.

Learn the language of the body. Every discomfort, every pain is different and tells a different story. One must learn to work with the body not against it.

My experience with hangman:

When I did this pose for the first time I cursed. It hurt to be in that pose. It felt like hell. After decades of yoga this stretch was so uncomfortable that I almost didn’t believe it. I had a good day and held this pose for five minutes. To give up before that time wasn’t an option. I knew that if I accomplished it once, I’d be able to hold the pose for five minutes the next time as well. I focused on the breath. I counted the breath. 15 breaths are one minute. And finally it was over.

By now I practiced this pose rather often. It never hurt that much like the first time. These days it hurts more to get out of the pose than to hold it.

Why I love hangman:

For me it is one of the most effective gravity stretches. My back bending improved almost immediately. I know a lot of shoulder stretches. Often all these puppy poses are recommended. They are by far not so effective like hangman. It’s important to hold hangman for 5 minutes (if possible). It’s important to relax.

Of course one must first find out what is possible. From there the shoulder stretching journey can begin. To begin with 2 minutes is great as well. Enjoy the stretch.