Thoughts from the cybershala?

Just finished up a lovely practice. Sunday is a good day to take some video — weekday practices happen when it’s too dark to get good images, plus there are time limitations.

Anyhow. Urdhva dhanurasanas. Five. The Annie P limit. The good news: I have tons of room for more extension through my legs and tons of room for more bend in my back. The legs and back feel like there is all sorts of space to move more deeply into the pose. The catch? My arms. My shoulders.

Is there something someone can see here? I feel like my arms rotate in the wrong direction, but I can’t seem to pinpoint how to solve for it… My legs and back are ready to move into the pose more fully, but somehow my arms are gumming it up.

I’m curious to hear thoughts. Even if the thought is simply that I just need to be patient.


9 Responses

  1. here i go with my dime-store yoga teacher advice. you knew i would be the first one to jump on this didn’t you? i would ditch the blocks. they look to me like they are hindering your opening rather than helping. it looks to me that your body proportions are such that the blocks aren’t really helping to open the shoulders.
    also, i would reccomend bending over an excersize ball. this really helped my shoulders open because you can get a passive stretch instead of trying to force the opening by backbending. my shoulders were my sticking point in backbending. and they still are for kapotasana. i make up for it by having a pretty deep bend through the rest of my back, but if you have looked at my pictures, my armpits roll open to the sides and my elbows bow out to compensate for the opening that isn’t happening in the shoulders.
    anyways…ditch the blocks and do some relaxing over a ball, or even the bed or the arm of a couch…

  2. Looks like the shoulders to me. Your pose looks similar to The Wife’s backbend.

    I was thinking “keep the elbows in; try a belt” and then you did.

    And they matched the curtains perfectly.

  3. T and T sound good to me. But seriously, this is completely beautiful. You are working equally throughout your body–just a mindful, graceful awareness in the feet and legs and lumbar and thoracic, and such good and lovely work in the forearms and hands.

    The one tiny place I see here and wonder if it’s really awake and ready to open is (strangely, since indeed a lot of your experience is in the shoulders and upper back and T and T understand that way better than I do) the front hips–the lower part of the psoas. Would it be at all interesting to work on lengthening the front body at that place during backbends? (“Backbending is front-lengthening.”)

    It’s interesting you’re so strong that the five bends without a rest doesn’t even bring visible fatigue to your body. Seriously, this is just beautiful, even, mindful practice. You zen or something?

    Thanks for posting.

  4. hmm, wish i could say more about shoulder rotation. hopefully i will learn more this winter! have you tried lying on your stomach with your arms up the wall?

  5. I think it’s a great backbend, Karen. Your shoulders need a bit of work but the rest of your body looks beautiful. I would drop the blocks, as I suspect they might deviate your awareness away from your wrists, which is what I would focus on if I were you.

    My advice is: when you get into the backbend, look at your hands. I know you can see them, it’s obvious from the clip. Then work on turning them so that the bases of the thumbs get closer and the little fingers get far away. So you are turning them externally, one would say. That will bring your elbows closer. Once you get to your limit, then push push push your legs straight and try to exert pressure on your armpits. With time, I think this will help open them.

    Let us know how it goes, if you decide to give it a try.

  6. Try not using any props. There is no need.

  7. Hi Karen
    Ah uhm, regarding my question on the rotation of the hands in my comment to your last post, I see what Vanessa said. Rotate outwards. That makes sense, so that the elbows go inwards. That is good advice, and one that my teachers always give – bringing the elbows inwards.

  8. You’re wonderfully color-coordinated. I agree with those who said to drop the blocks. Your arms were straighter and chest closer to the wall without them.

  9. Oh, strap, lovely! And I like what Vanessa said about turning your hands. I’ve been doing that lately, in an effort to move my arm pits toward each other, thereby turning my shoulders in the correct direction, and it helps. I also use the legs like she said, especially on the last two backbends (thinking about engaging the inner hamstrings!).

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