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15 Advanced Frontbending Yoga & Contortion Poses

All poses are demonstrated by Sapphire Ng, guitarist, dancer, model and pioneer of Contortion Guitar.

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1. Leg Behind Head V Sit


Prerequisite skills

Leg Behind Head, L Sit, V Sit

Target muscles

Hip flexors, external hip rotators, hamstrings, core, shoulders, arms

How to get into the pose

In a seated position, put one leg behind the head

Lift into an L Sit

Lift further into a V Sit

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  • Seated Frontbend

2. Standing Frontbend / Seated Frontbend


Prerequisite skills

Pancake V Splits, Pancake Middle Splits / Straddle Splits, Legs Together Standing Frontbend, Legs Apart Standing Frontbend (with Hands Behind Legs)

Target muscles

Hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps

How to get into the pose

Standing Frontbend

From a standing position with legs apart, bend forward and touch the floor with hands

Walk the hands behind the legs into a deeper stretch

Lock arms behind the hamstrings to lock the upper body in position

Straighten the knees

Rotate the head up and look to the sky


Seated Frontbend

From a seated position, place each bent leg behind each shoulder

Straighten both legs

Frontbend Torso Twist

3. Frontbend Torso Twist


Prerequisite skills

Legs Together Standing Frontbend, Legs Apart Standing Frontbend, Standing Sidebend Open Chest Stretch, Straddle Splits Sidebend Open Chest Stretch, Opposite Hand to Foot Frontbend Open Chest Stretch

Target muscles

Hamstrings, shoulders, chest, obliques, core

How to get into the pose

From a standing position, bend forward and reach the right hand to the left foot / ankle (or vice versa)

Push upwards from the right hand and open the chest to the sky

Reach the left hand (with left arm bent) to the right thigh

Straighten the left arm

Walk the left hand slowly down the right leg to reach the ankle or foot

Relax and let the head hang and look to the front

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4. Two Legs Behind Head


Prerequisite skills

Butterfly Pose Frontbend, Cow Face Pose Frontbend, Lying Figure Four Stretch, Frog Pose, Half Pigeon Pose Frontbend, Double Pigeon Pose Frontbend, Leg Behind Head

Target muscles

Hip flexors, external hip rotators, hamstrings

How to get into the pose

In a seated position, put the less flexible leg behind the head

Put the more flexible leg behind the head on top of the foot of the other leg

Front Oversplits Mermaid Pose

5. Front Oversplits Mermaid Pose


Prerequisite skills

Mermaid Pose, Front Splits Mermaid Pose, Front Oversplits

Target muscles

Hip flexors, hamstrings, core, back

How to get into the pose

From a forward lunge position with the front foot on a platform of a desired height, place both hands on the ground on each side of the body

Straighten the front leg and lower down into front oversplits

Maintaining square hips, bend the back leg

Place the foot of the back leg under the armpit on the same side of the body

If you can, engage the shoulder and arm to push the foot downwards towards your bottom

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6. Standing Leg Behind Head


Prerequisite skills

Seated Leg Behind Head (With Other Leg Straight), Lying Leg Behind Head (With Other Leg Straight), One-Legged Balance

Target muscles

Hip flexors, external hip rotators, hamstrings

How to get into the pose

In a standing position, bend the bottom leg and use the hands to bring the other leg towards the face

Put the leg behind the head

Slowly straighten the bottom leg

Front Oversplits

7. Front Oversplits


Prerequisite skills

Front Splits

Target muscles

Hip flexors, hamstrings

How to get into the pose

From a forward lunge position with the front foot on a platform of a desired height, place both hands on the ground on each side of the body

Straighten the front leg and lower down into front oversplits

Maintain square hips and keep the body upright

Leg Behind Head Headstand

8. Leg Behind Head Headstand


Prerequisite skills

Leg Behind Head, Headstand

Target muscles

Hip flexors, external hip rotators, hamstrings, neck, shoulders, arms, core

How to get into the pose

From a squatting position, put one leg behind the head

Place both hands apart on the ground

Position the top of the head on the ground, forming a tripod position with the hands

Transfer body weight onto the head and arms, and lift the remaining leg off the ground

Front Lean Middle Oversplits : Straddle Oversplits

9. Front Lean Middle Oversplits / Straddle Oversplits


Prerequisite skills

Middle Splits / Straddle Splits, Pancake Middle Splits / Straddle Splits

Target muscles

Adductors, hamstrings

How to get into the pose

In a seated position, place straight legs (with each leg on each side of the body) onto platforms of a desired height

Put both arms in front of the body

Place body weight on arms, lift the body and walk the hands forward to align the body with the feet

Lower the body down into a straddle oversplits

Walk both hands forwards until the body is flat on the ground

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10. Firefly Pose


Prerequisite skills

Legs Together Standing Frontbend, Legs Apart Standing Frontbend, Arm Pressure Pose

Target muscles

Hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, core, shoulders, arms

How to get into the pose

From a seated position, place each bent leg behind each shoulder

Place both hands shoulder width apart in front of the body

Push hands against the ground to lift hips off the ground

Straighten both legs

  • Tortoise Pose
  • Reverse Tortoise Pose

11. Tortoise Pose / Reverse Tortoise Pose


Prerequisite skills

Pancake V Splits, Legs Apart Standing Frontbend (with Hands Behind Legs)

Target muscles

Hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps

How to get into the pose

Tortoise Pose

In a seated position, place both legs diagonally to the front of the body

Lean body forward and place body flat on the ground

Place each arm under each knee

Straighten both legs


Reverse Tortoise Pose

Lie down facing up with the back on the ground

Lift legs up towards the chest

Place each arm under each knee

Straighten both legs

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12. Standing Side Split Leg Hold


Prerequisite skills

Straddle Splits Sidebend, One-Legged Balance

Target muscles

Adductors, hamstrings, legs, core, shoulders

How to get into the pose

In a standing position, grab the heel of right foot with right hand (or vice versa)

Straighten the right leg

Pull the leg towards the face or ear

Leg Behind Head Freeze

13. Leg Behind Head Freeze


Prerequisite skills

Baby Freeze, Baby Freeze (with Head Off The Ground), Leg Behind Head

Target muscles

Hip flexors, external hip rotators, hamstrings, neck, shoulders, arms, core

How to get into the pose

From a squatting position, put one leg behind the head

Place both hands apart on the ground on the side of the squatting leg

Lean the side of the squatting leg to the closest arm, and lean the hips and the side of the body to the closest arm

Lean until the squatting leg can be lifted off the ground

Straighten the bottom leg

Frontbend Elevated Calf Stretch

14. Frontbend Elevated Calf Stretch


Prerequisite skills

Wall Lunge Calf Stretch, Wall Lean Calf Stretch, Downward Facing Dog Pose, Half Splits Pose (with Flexed Foot), Legs Together Standing Frontbend

Target muscles

Hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves

How to get into the pose

From a standing position with legs together, place the front of both feet on an elevated platform or a yoga block

Maintaining straight legs, lean body forward from the waist and touch the ground with both hands

Walk the hands behind the legs into a deeper stretch

Compress body to the legs as much as possible

Frontbend Invert Shoulder Stretch

15. Frontbend Invert Shoulder Stretch


Prerequisite skills

Legs Apart Standing Frontbend

Target muscles

Hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, shoulders

How to get into the pose

From a standing position with legs apart, interlace fingers behind the body

Lean body forward from the waist, allowing the arms to follow the movement while maintaining interlaced fingers

Compress body to the legs as much as possible

Allow the arms to hang


Sapphire Ng

Sapphire Ng is a guitarist, dancer, model and pioneer of Contortion Guitar, an original and distinctive performance act which unites acrobatics and contortion with guitar playing.

She is also a 2-time scholarship winner, having graduated with a second class honours with upper division for her Bachelor of Laws, Law LLB at Queen Mary University of London in the UK, and also with a Summa Cum Laude for her Bachelor of Music in Music Business and Management degree at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, USA.

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