Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Evolution of a backbend

I'm somewhere in the middle, but it is so easy for me to fall back into the first couple of stages of the process. I mean, every day at practice, I fantasize about plunking my mat over by the wall and, if not using blocks, then at least pressing my wrists flat against the wall for leverage to crank my armpits open.

Damn armpits.

Several factors have contributed to my renewed interest in backbends. One is that my twists have gotten really really twisty, and I am no longer at the edge of my edge in any of the Marichyasanas, even D (yay!). The second is the practice-altering advice Aliza gave me to now begin to press my big toes into the floor in Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Updog). Advice I had previously been given to press into the outside edges of my feet and lift my inner thighs up is now woefully out of date (most alignment tips have expiration dates), now that my lumbar spine is nice and juicy. My thoracic spine remains practically immobile. Aliza's advice somewhat quiets the bend in my lumbar spine, requiring me to lift my sternum and bring some of the bend into my upper back).....I am now able to give some attention to backbends. Finally, I think that I am pretty much 100 percent healed from my abdominoplasty. That was in August, and it has taken me all this time to be able to stretch my abdomen vertically without discomfort.

But hey, it was...

...sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo worth it. And my bhandas are thanking me for pulling those rectus abdominii back together.

So, I am no longer regarding the backbending interlude within my practice as an annoying interruption of flow. It feels like it belongs in my practice once again.

Today Sir gave me the MOST INTENSE Mari C and D adjustments I have ever ever experienced. At one point I became frightened that I my spine would splinter into "a million little pieces" (ha), or unravel like the cardboard center of a paper-towel roll, but I told myself that if I tensed up, it would only make it MORE likely to happen. "Breathe," he had to remind me. "BREATHE." Well, that was an understatement. It seems that I take a nice deep breath to begin, I let it all out to wrap myself into the pose, and then that's that. All done with breathing. Sir pointed this out to me. "You seem to regard your breath as a unit that begins with an inhale and ends with an exhale. Well, there's an inhale at the end of the exhale, and so on."

I realize that if you are someone who does not practice yoga, your eyes have either glazed over by now, or you are long gone (bye!) or you are continuing to read while shaking your head in disbelief, thinking, "Is THIS what you do in yoga class...obsess about whether the breath begins with an inhale and ends with an exhale or begins with an exhale and ends with an inhale or keeps going and going or whatever.........??!!!! Pardon me while I rip my hair out strand by strand."

But crazily enough, yes, this is what we do, and it seems to matter how you breathe. And it seems to matter, not just on the mat, but whatever you're doing, whether it's driving your car, feeding your kids, listening to your boss or talking to one of the crazy moms at school who yells at you for no apparent reason about an incident that you don't even remember involving your child and her child, who you couldn't pick out of a lineup...but I digress.

As I sat in Mari D and just breathed, I felt like I was curled up in the tiniest little ball, and I liked it. Is that what we're trying to do in yoga? Get really really compact? It sometimes seems like it. Perhaps by getting really compact, we are expanding the space around us. I'll have to think about that.

I wonder if I am ever going to move onto the knees behind the shoulders poses. I didn't say that. I did NOT say that. Did not.



ciodude said...

I am of the non-yoga persuasion. My eyes haven't glazed over (although they did close once or twice as I winced at some of the later back bend photos - ouch). It's interesting the whole "whether the breath begins with an inhale and ends with an exhale or begins with an exhale and ends with an inhale or keeps going and going or whatever". It reminds me a bit of my philosophy of science and religion class in college.

yoga chickie said...

It's funny that you sy that you winced at the later photos. I winced at the earlier photos because the yogis look uncomfortable to me (or that is what I am projecting onto them). The later photos look seamless and relaxed. Funny - perspectives.

Yoga is very philosophical, lots of paradoxes and contradictions, lots of unanswered questions, lots of seeking. Perhaps you should try it!


ciodude said...

Yes I suppose it is all in the perepctive. I wince at the latter photos because the rate of body 'bend' is far greater then one would normally think is humanly possible.

As for me and yoga, I am afraid the most advanced asana I could perform would be "the rock". :)

Although I have threatened Julie that if she teaches a yoga class again at the LawNet conference I may join her class.

kikapu said...

Ah, backbends. They look SO easy and relaxed when someone really bendy and strong does them, but they really are much harder than they look. I can't do them at all right now, I don't dare to rely on my weak arm to handle the pressure. (I suffered an elbow fracture in November and it needed surgery to repair).

Oh, and the knnes behind the shoulders thing? Just had the exact same thought yesterday. But I really shouldn't... Do your practice and all is coming! :-)


Copyright 2005-2007 Lauren Cahn, all rights reserved. Photos appearing on this blog may be subject to third party copyright ownership. You are free to link to this blog and portions hereof, but the use of any direct content requires the prior written consent of the author.

About Me

My photo
Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


Ashtanga Blogs

Thanks for reading Yoga Chickie!