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8 Leg Behind Head Variations Once You’ve Mastered Leg Behind Head

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

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1. Leg Behind Head Shiva Pose


Skills required

Leg Behind Head, Shiva Pose

How to get into the pose

In a seated pike position, place one leg behind the head and bend the other leg

Place hands shoulder width apart one on each side of the body

Push hands against the ground to lift the hips off the ground

Lift the supporting foot onto tiptoes

Open the chest as much as possible and push head backwards against the foot behind the head to deepen the stretch

Lift the hips as high as possible and look to the sky

Notes

Having basic front splits flexibility with relatively open hips, and flexible hip flexors, quadriceps and hamstrings will be useful for this pose

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2. Leg Behind Head Front Splits Shiva Pose


Skills required

Leg Behind Head, Shiva Pose, Front Splits, Front Splits Shiva Pose

How to get into the pose

In a seated pike position, place one leg behind the head

Place hands shoulder width apart one on each side of the body

Push hands against the ground to lift the hips off the ground

Open the chest as much as possible and push head backwards against the foot behind the head to deepen the stretch

Lift the hips as high as possible for the maximum front splits extension and look to the sky

Notes

It will help if you are already familiar with Standing Leg Behind Head or Lying Leg Behind Head with Straight Leg as they are excellent preparation poses

Another great complementary pose to practice is the Front Splits Shiva Pose, as it works the hips and supporting leg in the same manner but with a less intense stretch

If this pose is too difficult, you can practice gentle and small pulses/lifts with the hips off the ground

And if full front splits extension in the pose is too difficult, you can practice gentle and small pulses of the hips to a range of motion that causes mild discomfort

Practice the Pigeon Pose Frontbend as a basic fundamental pose

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3. Leg Behind Head Standing Pike Frontbend


Skills required

Leg Behind Head, Standing Pike Frontbend

How to get into the pose

In a seated pike position, place one leg behind the head and bend the other leg

Place hands shoulder width apart one on each side of the body

Push hands against the ground to lift the hips off the ground into a squat

Keeping the hands on the ground, straighten the supporting leg so that the body goes into a standing pike frontbend, with the other leg still behind the head

If possible, compress the body against the supporting leg for a tighter frontbend

Notes

If it is too difficult to transition into a Standing Pike Frontbend after placing a leg behind the head, keep working on Leg Behind Head and Standing Pike Frontbend

If hamstring flexibility is holding you back, place hands further away in front of the body in the squatting position with a leg behind the head before straightening the supporting leg. Otherwise, with hands furthest away possible from the body, straighten the supporting leg and try to bring the torso to a horizontal position instead of a diagonal position close to the supporting leg

4. Leg Behind Head L Sit


Skills required

Leg Behind Head, L Sit

How to get into the pose

In a seated pike position, put one leg behind the head

Place hands shoulder width apart one on each side of the body

Engage the core and quadriceps, and push hands against the ground to lift into an L Sit

Notes

Master the L Sit before attempting this pose

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5. Leg Behind Head V Sit


Skills required

Leg Behind Head, L Sit, V Sit, Leg Behind Head L Sit

How to get into the pose

In a seated pike position, put one leg behind the head

Place hands shoulder width apart one on each side of the body

Engage the core and quadriceps, and push hands against the ground to lift into an L Sit

Further engage and compress and lift further into a V Sit

Remember to always point the toes

Notes

This pose is comparatively easier than the regular V Sit because one leg is held behind the head in passive flexibility, and only one other leg is required to be held up in active flexibility, thus requiring active engagement of muscle of only one leg and less overall core strength

This pose can be attempted even if not confident with the V Sit, but L Sit is a non-negotiable prerequisite

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6. Leg Behind Head Seated V Sit


Skills required

Leg Behind Head, Seated Pike Frontbend, Seated V Sit

How to get into the pose

In a seated pike position, put one leg behind the head

With a supporting hand on the ground to help with balance, lift the straight leg up towards the face with the other hand

If possible, lift the supporting hand off the ground and try to balance

Notes

Practice balance with Seated V Sit before attempting this pose

If balance or getting into the pose is a challenge, work on seated frontbends and core exercises that involve compression movement of straight legs

Leg Behind Head Seated Tortoise Pose

7. Leg Behind Head Seated Tortoise Pose


Skills required

Leg Behind Head, Tortoise Pose, Seated Tortoise Pose

How to get into the pose

In a seated pike position, put one leg behind the head and bend the other leg

Place hands in front of the body, and place the bent leg over the same side shoulder

Engage the muscles and straighten the leg over the shoulder and point the toes

Notes

The more vertical the leg over the shoulder, the more intense the hamstring stretch

Shift the leg lower down the shoulder if the pose is too difficult

If unable to straighten the leg on the shoulder fully, work on both active and passive flexibility of the legs

Leg Behind Head Headstand

8. Leg Behind Head Headstand


Skills required

Leg Behind Head, Headstand

How to get into the pose

From a squatting position, put one leg behind the head

Place both hands wider than shoulder width apart on the ground in front of the body

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

Notes

Be reasonably confident with Headstands before attempting this pose for safety reasons

Having greater overall body flexibility allows the free leg to be lifted higher and further away from the ground in the pose

Lifting the supporting leg off the ground, straightening it and raising it as high as possible in front of the body would roughly mimic the body and legs position in a Standing Leg Behind Head

If lacking in confidence or in doubt, keep the supporting leg tucked close to the body and near to the ground to catch yourself in the event you lose balance

If the stretch is too intense to enter into the invert headstand position, practice transitioning between squatting and placing the head on the ground forming a tripod position with the hands without lifting the supporting foot off the ground


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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