Safe and Effective Methods for Practicing and Teaching Backbends with Rachel Barringer


Rachel Barringer

Rachel is an aerialist, contortionist, yoga teacher, circus coach, and cellist living in the Boston area. In pre-covid times she performed circus with companies including The Boston Circus Guild and Nimble Arts, ...
Backbends sometimes get a bad reputation in the yoga world. Students often complain of pain the low back and so they avoid them entirely and never really get the benefit of an effective and safe backbend. In this two-hour workshop we will focus on ways to avoid "dumping into the low back" and instead how to use the core, glutes, lats, and shoulders to feel strong, resilient, and perhaps even joyous in our backbending practice. We will explore how to align, what to soften, what to engage, and we will look at creative ways of using props to open the often-stubborn thoracic spine.  Many techniques we will be exploring are drawn from Rachel's extensive background in contortion, but fear not! Nothing ever needs to be extreme, and you can control all aspects of your practice using these tools. Helpful props for class include blocks, a foam roller, chair, and a bit of wall space.


Known for her challenging yet creatively playful yoga classes, Rachel Barringer strives to help her students feel empowered through alignment-based movement. In her own practice, Rachel focuses on building core strength and balanced flexibility, leading to a more rich and fulfilling experience of life off the mat. She takes particular interest in breaking down seemingly impossible poses into smaller components, making them accessible to her students.

She has been teaching in the Boston area since 2008, and she continues to find her practice and teaching to be an outlet for her ever-expanding curiosity of movement and kinesthetic awareness. Some of her most influential yoga teachers are Ana Forrest, Georgia Reath, Todd Skoglund, and David Vendetti.

A classically-trained cellist, Rachel was drawn to yoga as a way to relieve performance anxiety while she was a music major in college. Immediately she began experiencing the multitude of other benefits and realized that yoga was forever going to be a part of her life.

Rachel also performs as cello soloist Lady Ray, and has accompanied various notable yoga instructors including Shiva Rea, Sianna Sherman, and Sanskrit scholar Christopher Tompkins. To learn more about her music please visit