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.


OK, this pose is called hangman. I find it very useful. It stretches the upper body. It’s very demanding to hold it for 5 minutes. In my case I progressed fast. Very soon I could also realize the result. Back bending got easier and I feel less discomfort when practicing urdhva dhanurasana. I haven’t taken pictures for a while. Yet all back bending asanas seem more doable. Important is to hold this pose. Discomfort is felt especially when moving out of the pose.

How to get into the pose:

It’s important that the crown of the head is touching the wall, when lying on the abdomen. Then the fingers shall crawl up the wall as high as possible. The hands shall be a bit more than shoulder wide apart from each other. The head and neck is relaxed and hangs forward. This is a leverage effect, like the deep breathing. Exhaling is longer than inhaling as this is more relaxing.

It’s not so important to do 15 exercises or more to learn certain asanas, one must find the effective ones. This one does miracles for me right now.

This morning I was able to lift up into urdhva dhanurasana after all these forward bending asanas.

Otherwise I was glad that I practiced this morning before breakfast. As always. Not every session is ‘oh so wonderful’. Yet I know why I’m so obsessed with my yoga practice. Just doing it, is it. How intensive it is , is of second priority. Yesterday in the late afternoon we were in a beer garden. I loved the Bavarian atmosphere. It was chilling. I realized that a lot of people don’t care so much about their health. They smoke, drink and obviously eat too much. These are behaviors which are fun, but in the long run the health gets damaged, the body becomes a burden. Life becomes difficult. The earlier one stops unhealthy behavior, the easier it is. There are other joys in that world as drinking, smoking and eating. A yoga practice forces to reflect on the own life style. Finally every behavior gets judged in relationship to the yoga practice. Does a habit support the morning practice or not, this is the question.

Stay healthy. Practice yoga.