December 12, 2012 § 2 Comments
As of this morning, I have reached two of my goals for 2012: headstands and back bends. By no means do I consider myself an expert in either one, but both scared the hell out of me to begin with and now I’m actually practicing them! This is a huge feat that I had to tackle not only physically, but mentally. Being upside down was so foreign to me, it took me about 10 months of working on my headstand (with lots of love and a bit of trickery from Alana) before I gained the confidence to get up on my own.
Alana, my cherished teacher, started me on back bends in September. Back bends begin with wheel pose in Ashtanga, but move on to bending backwards from standing up, and hand stands into back bends. I had wheel down, so my next move was bending backwards from standing up, so that my hands would come over my head and touch my mat behind me. At first, I was pretty sure I was going to seriously injure my back. I practiced bending back and breathing in a controlled manner with Alana holding my hips. I experienced the growing pains of my back stretching, becoming stronger, and my posture changing. Some say that this pose causes the practicer to experience very strong emotions, as it’s a heart-opener. I was lucky to get off easy with just a week at the end of October where I was getting angry at myself that my body wasn’t listening to my mind; I couldn’t make myself let go and touch the floor. After that, I mellowed out and set the goal to achieve this by December 31, but that I had plenty of time and wouldn’t force myself just yet.
Last week, I told Alana my biggest fear is just that the ground was so far away. I was worried what would happen to my back when I got down in that position. We came up with the solution to have me drop back so that my hands would land on a pile of blankets behind me, about 2 feet off the floor. I tried it and was finally successfully letting myself go! On Monday, Alana decided to pull away 95% of the blankets while my back was turned to them and I came down, not realizing how far I was bending. When I looked back and saw I basically did my full back bend, I knew I could do it.
This morning, I finally let myself go. I let my hands come all the way over my head and I gloriously touched down to the mat in a full back bend. GLORIOUSLY, YOU GUYS.
Moments like this make it all worthwhile. I am far from an expert and I know achieving this pose just opens more doors for me with more things to learn, but thank god! I am not done yet and can’t wait for the next step.
Watch the video below to see Ashtanga’s back bends in action: