If you are familiar with my teaching you may have heard me voice one if not all of the following…
Root to rise.
Ground to grow.
Connect within to expand out.
Dig deep to shine bright.
I love it how these complementary phrases can remind us of seeing another perspective. I do believe that there is always a flip side to everything.
I find these contradicting sayings very valuable as I work in my Pilates practice where much of what I am concentrated on is strengthening my center. If I just focus on rooting, grounding, connecting (strengthening actions), etc…and do not give equal attention to the rise, growth, expansion, and overall reach out, I could create more stress and congestion in my pelvic center instead of what I want which is a strong, yet spacious connection.
As I am sure most of us can agree, it is natural to sometimes resist a difficult situation/hardship, or feel sad, upset, angry, and possibly even out of breath. Remembering that this is only one side to our experience or our ‘play’ (and the play will go on if we allow it) brings me peace and hope. It helps to be aware of the flip side of all situations when I am struggling the most.
I find Backbends to be a perfect remedy to help me when I am feeling sad and resisting the present moment. Experiencing the pure physicality of a backbend of being flipped open helps me breathe deeper and encourages me to let go, be courageous, playful, and trust in myself. As you can imagine, the nature of a backbend exposes the front body which we generally are very protective of. As a result of “exposing ourselves,” I truly believe we can release held tensions and emotions that we sometimes can’t let go. It the best kind of posture to practice to lift us up, “unstick” ourselves, and release tension within. It can also enhance our flexibility and overall elasticity, giving us a feeling of youthful lightness and the ability to take a fuller, deeper, breath.
Another great benefit to practicing backbends is that they can give you tremendous strength in your back body. The muscles of the back, legs, buttocks, and shoulders are generously strengthened. Backbends may seem scary at first, but they are not that complicated when broken down and truly worth the effort. Backbends are definitely a challenge for most people as it is not a posture we practice on a day to day basis. Most of us spend the most of our day sitting, possibly looking at screens for too long which encourages opposite actions of a backbend; such as flexion in the hips, short front bodies, round upper backs and tight shoulders. I hope writing this will encourage you to all get up off your chair and do a backbend or at least give your self a moment to extend and lengthen the front of your spine and open your collar bones wide!! Take a few breaths and feel more spacious and alive!
If you are curious about backbends and want more insight on how you can enhance yours, I would be happy to help you at my next social hour, scheduled for March 6 2020. My 41st birthday is just a few days later, March 10th, and it is my wish and my hope to have a backbend party! I hope you can come and help me celebrate. I also hope we all can remember that sunshine and brighter days can be a beautiful result of dark gloomy storms, in our life and also in our practices.
REMINDERS FOR PRACTICING BACKBENDS!
-Heart leads the way.
-Back body is active and front body lengthens/drapes over the back.
-Use your legs and ground consciously through your feet!!
-Observe your behind…it should be a spacious container where your abdomen can connect down through your feet. If you tighten, clench, squeeze your seat too much you will not only compress your low back, there will also be no connection:(. It helps to inner rotate upper thighs when lifting sit bones and extending through hips to keep the pelvis in a neutral state.
-Work from your ‘inside out’ to transform yourself breath by breath into a deeper more fuller expression of your backbend.
Here’s to bending over backwards,