Some backbends

Okay, a few things backbend-related:

Here’s the post on Arturo’s site where Bindi made an interesting comment about how to stack the arms/shoulders in urdhva dhanurasana. Arturo is also hosting a lurkers’ amnesty week, where people who read but don’t comment are invited to say hi.

I promised Wyrdbyrd a while back that I would post a video of the wall dropback. We established that a good rule-of-thumb for figuring out how close to get to the wall is this: sit with your back to the wall and stretch out your legs. Keeping your feet where they are, stand up. You’re within range of the wall. You may need to move in a teeny bit closer or a teeny bit further out, but for the most part, you’re in the zone. I set myself up that way for the video, and I think I was actually a bit too far out, but the rule-of-thumb at least makes sure you’re not going to miss the wall entirely, nor will you smash your face. Important considerations.

I have not been doing wall dropbacks lately. I’ve been sticking to my five urdhva dhanurasanas and trying to work into them. From the ground up, so to speak. Making the little wall dropback tape this morning (sorry about the lighting), I realized that it is just the other end of the backbend issue. You can probably get there from either direction (from the air or from the ground). Maybe a little experimenting with both is helpful. Or not. LOL! If you just keep at it, I imagine it all comes clear in the end.

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9 Responses

  1. Those videos are great. It almost looks like you don’t really need the wall in your dropback — you’re halfway there already!

  2. I hate to say, check out my blog, like some people do, but seriously, I paraphrase Kino MacGregor’s advice on Urdvha Dhanurasana in a recent post, and it totally goes with what Bindi says, except that it makes it INTUITIVE. Kino’s advice is to press up into bridge USING YOUR FEET PRESSING HARD INTO THE GROUND. Don’t lift the pelvis. Instead, press the feet down until the pelvis HAS to lift. Then lift the ribcage away from the hip bones, Then UNTUCK the tailbone – aiming it UP, instead of down. Sounds weird, but it extends the lumbar spine, as Susananda pointed out, which enables the upper back to bend more. In turn, this lays the groundwork for the armpits to open…which I know you want to happen. THEN, the crown of the head goes to the ground. THEN PRESS INTO THE FEET AGAIN. NOTICE at this point – are you in a backbend? Is all that is left to do to put the hands down and lift? Then put the hands down and lift. You won’t feel any pain in the shoulders, and your armpits will feel open, and your legs can begin to straighten.

    If it works for me, it will work for ANYONE.

  3. Oh, I can’t wait to try this tomorrow! Thanks, Lauren.

  4. Thank you for this! (I know, I keep changing identities—it depends on who I’m logged in as and I’m too lazy to change it.)

    You are dropping down much further than I was before you touch the wall. I will have to work on that. And you do look like you’re so close, like you could do it.

    I’ll try Lauren’s advice, too. Any and all advice when it comes to backbends is a good thing. 🙂

    Thanks again!

  5. The leaning back part is good for feeling the balance of the top of a dropback. I think people who aren’t super back-bendy tend to look at a dropback and think it’s all about the bend in the back and that if the bend is there, then the control in a dropback is there. But the control lies in the legs and the balance of the bending back. And the wall dropback is good for getting a feel for that. Same deal on the coming back up. It gives you a clue about how the legs feel and how the strength has to be deployed.

  6. Hi Karen
    How about if when you hit the wall, you hit with both hands at the same time? Also, try not walking the hands, but bounce them, elbows bending at the same time. That is what I think Matthew Sweeney recommends when practicing at the wall. Actually I hope you can confirm that when you go to his workshop. I heard it from my first teacher, who heard it from his teacher at Tim’s studio, who learned if from Matthew. But you could ask from the source!
    The Lurker’s Amnesty Week was laskmi’s idea, and it ‘s fun. Even my brother and SIL delurked. Next week it will be your turn to host one!
    Cheers, Arturo

  7. DZM, when someone helps me, yeah, I can feel that it’s all in the legs, but my fear is the there is not enough bend in my back and that I will be going down, down, and my hands will be too far from my feet and I’ll fall on my head! Probably a silly fear, but there it is.

    I, too, hit the wall one hand at a time—I’ll have to work on that.

    If you learn more about it at your workshop, please tell!

  8. Okay, I totally have to try that, Lauren. My back is finally well enough for backbending, but my shoulder started complaining. But that sounds like it would work.

  9. Hi Karen
    I wanted to report that my upward bows were very smooth today, putting into practice all the recent discussion mentioned by Lauren, regarding Kino’s and Bindi’s advice. I experience gartenfische’s concern. My first teacher, who can drop back and come back up, says your hands need to be able to reach to about waist height behind you before you drop to the floor. It also helps if you see the floor, but I asked Kimberly Williams whether you have to see the floor or your mat on the floor before dropping back and her response was that the focus as you drop back is on the dristhe, which is the nose. People who are flexible can drop back with hands fully extended. Less flexible people, she said, have to do the prayer position to the hands, then when they’re about to drop to the floor, they have to place them quickly down to brace the fall. The legs start firmly as in Ustrasana, but when you’re about to touch down they have to bend a lot.
    Cheers, Arturo

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