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Friday, 11 November 2011

Backbending Pledge

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Kristin ShepherdKristin Shepherd
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Archives September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 « Channeling Marlene | Blog HomePage | Releasing into Backbends »

Backbending Pledge

pra1440.jpgBackbends and I have not had an easy relationship.
In Bow pose, my knees are unhappy, myback unbending. In Camel ... well, there is no "in Camel" for me. I can lean back while on my knees, but my heels might as well be onthe east coast of Africa, they're so far from my hopeful, flailinghands.And Wheel? I can raise myself from thefloor for five seconds, tops, at which point everything, my hips, myleft shoulder and ramrod spine lock up like it's closing time at the local prison.

It isn't just physical, either. Assoon as I arch my low back beyond its completely controlled range ofabout four degrees, a panic begins, a defense mechanism that KNOWSI'm safer closed than open, safer with the few things I know wellthan with the million new things I might be stupidly bad at, safer sayingno than yes.

You know what they say: The way you doyour practice is the way you do everything, andclosed/no-chance/safety-first has been a default stance all my life.

It's time for a change.

What has happened sometime over thelast two years of practice is that my hard "no way, no how" hasbecome a softer "what if?"

At first encounter with a difficultpose, I can't even think through it. Can't visualize myself inthe same room with it.

Over time, resistance softens and my imagination begins to wrap itself around the pose, until I hear myself thinking, "Some day, some day I'll get there." That's where I am with Camel, now.This alone is a huge victory.

For the rest of the summer, I'm going to include backbends everyday. "Independence from my old resistance" is my summer mantra.

Is there a pose or a part of practicethat challenges you in the same way? Have you made breakthroughs? I'd love to hear.

Thanks to yoga for teaching me thatchallenges don't end until I do.

Thanks to you for the conversation,


Dr.Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About AllThings Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the web,on Facebook,on Twitter,and on iTunes.

Posted by Kristin Shepherd on July 5, 2011 9:49 AM | |


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Each time I have an injury, there's a pose or two that will scare me until I get past myself... past the injury. LOL.
On backbends, though... I LOVE them. They flow so well into the theme of love you mention over and over. I always get my students to focus on lifting the ribs up and lifting the chest forward/up because this opens the heart center of the body. Yes, it can be scary, but oh so exhilarating as well. Opening the heart center makes us more accepting and loving beings. Also, focusing on the upper back increases our ability to breath in our chest, ridding that area of the body of tightness (allowing us to breath more easily and decrease stress, etc). Maybe instead of focusing on the physical aspect of how far you're bending in the pose, like I tell my students, lift until you're comfortable, until you feel open, accept this feeling by just breathing into it, and then come out of the pose. Sphinx pose is great to get your upper back used to bending. Enjoy your backbends and all the feelings that come with them!

Posted by: Mandi | July 5, 2011 11:29 AM

i love your honesty. i have alot of fear around inversions....... esp everything higher than a neadstand........ sigh..... ad now i am healing from a shoulder injury and hyper mobility so that has added to it.......... what if is a good way towards yes

Posted by: mia | July 5, 2011 12:08 PM

Poses that keep on challenging me are the deep forward bends... My legs are so stiff. I had to learn to embrace and love the feeling of letting go, relaxing the back of my body rather than become obsessed with the distance between my forehead and my knee. :)

Posted by: Lau | July 5, 2011 12:24 PM

Inversions!! I used to go to my class 'praying' that the teacher wont ask us to do any shoulder balance towards the end of the class! I was a newbie then and was so wary of my pose compared to that of other students. I later learned that it wasnt me, but the teacher wasnt concentrating on the students who have never practice this inversion. She didnt give any variations such as legs up the wall.

Obsessed with achieving the perfect shoulder balance, I tried to practice in front of the mirror which was a bad mistake, hurt my shoulder when I twisted to look - learned a lesson the hard way. Still couldnt understand why people said shoulder balance is so calming and so beneficial etc etc etc

I then decided to start from scratch. Did my research online, looked up various clips on internet, practiced shoulder balance against the wall, practiced shoulder balance with blankets, tried new teachers and ask lots of questions etc etc, and I am now happier with my shoulder balance and able to experience its calming benefits. I can even do halasana now, which again used to be another struggle. Still not perfect, but I am pleased with my pose.

Yoga is definitely a journey. Am now practising headstand, so wish me luck!

Posted by: Hui | July 5, 2011 3:31 PM


Posted by: alan5 | July 5, 2011 6:43 PM

Please tell me you are putting all these posts together into a book! I have enjoyed all of your writings on yoga so much. If such a book were to come into existence, it would be well-loved on my nightstand, or next to my yoga mat!

Posted by: Jill D. | July 6, 2011 5:33 AM

Headstand is my current 'working through' pose (and has been for the last 9 months) I tell myself to do it every time I practice, even if I have no intention of balancing I just try to see if I can set it up. I hope this will help with the strange fear I get when I try to get into it. I completely lose my head and flail and panic.
Strangely I used to get the same fear in wheel pose even though I could do it a few months after I started practicing. I could stay up in it but I resented having to hold it and I did rush into it to try to not delay the fear. I think now that that's a bad way to react to fear, it's better to acknowledge it and be calm.

Posted by: Brija | July 6, 2011 7:47 AM

This is like a peak into someones inner dialogue in terms of the mental struggles we all go through in our practice. In the beginning when we start doing yoga our bodies start to tell us where we are hurting and where we have stored all this negative energy. Yoga is the practice that teaches us what we have done and are doing to ourselves. Thank you for sharing this as its a great reminder of where we have all been and for us beginners, where we are!

Posted by: yoga teacher training | July 6, 2011 8:31 AM

Please tell me if i can invert my classic breathing in sun slutation: exhaling in a backbend & inhaling in fowardbend. I started to do it this way i felt new sensation.Can i improve my backbend this way.Please tell.Tanks in advance.

Posted by: abdalla | July 6, 2011 8:37 AM

One of the things that best I have found difficult is the reation of the positions, but anyway I think the perfection along with practice, so if I have a much advice is not to force my body.

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Posted by: lindafoit | July 6, 2011 8:34 PM

Now I am experiencing exactly the same with the hand stand. I was so so far away from it, but just the other day it was so easy for me to do by the wall. My teacher kept on telling "you need to find a way of making yourself lighter, it has to come from your core." After practicing the handstand while turning her words in my mind, I found myself doing it almost with no effort! Now I am thinking maybe I could get off the wall... Yoga is great!

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