I love back bends.
The love came early in my yoga practice. Back bends can be big and expansive, strong and exciting. But like all loving relationships, youthful delight matured into a more complicated relationship as my body changed with age and circumstances.
At what seemed the very peak of my yoga studies I came down with severe pneumonia twice within a one year timeframe. This left me unable to practice the adrenalized, hot fiery asana I loved so much. For the next 18 months my yoga was dominated by pranayama lying in child’s pose as I learned to breathe again.
When I came back to the hatha practice, I found my body different. The time spent learning to fill my lungs was well spent, but my spine and its supporting muscles had not remained strong and supple.
We humans have our soft, sensitive, vulnerabe side open to life. Because we are mammals, our body’s reaction to fear, trauma, or overwhelming experience is to protect that vulnerability by contracting, closing down, and hardening.
We each find somewhere along our front line the feeling of being overwhelmed, even the leftovers of being overwhelmed. It may be the jaw, perhaps the neck. For me it has been the chest and belly.
Back bending can be wonderful for our bodies to experience. Opening the deep front line providesa means to release the physical and emotional guarding that sometimes becomestoo established.
Starting February 9th in prAta Yoga we will focus on Ustrasana, camel pose
for 5 weeks. We will build strength and suppleness of mind and body so that we
have the opportunity to safely experience openness.