Usually when I practice back bends I start from the ground and push-up. In the spirit of maintaining curiosity and seeking a new experience I decided to switch it up and practice bending back. To do so is completely different and encountering the fears that bending back bring up is kind of liberating.
Taking baby steps toward bending back, I began by warming up with 3 Sun Salutations and some side bending. Tentatively, I backed my mat up to the wall and found a standing position at a safe distance away from the wall, initially about 2 feet. Then a sun salutation to shake it out. Here is what I have gleaned from opening my practice to bending back:
1. What I know– the process of bending backwards takes courage. As you begin your descent your heart opens fully, your destination is an unfamiliar distance, seemingly further and stranger than if you were bending forward with your eyes to guide you. Camel is another back-bending posture that facilitates opening the heart. Back bending emphasizes the strong connection that the heart can make with the mind.
2. What I learned– while practicing back-bending into wheel I did not know I would be flushed with thoughts about all of the things that scare me. What are those things? To name a few; confrontation and the dark. As I was reaching back towards the wall, and as my fingers began to walk down the wall, my thighs started to shutter. Was this fatigue? Maybe. But I also think it was a physical response to the emotion attached to the things that scare me. As scenes of confrontation and being alone in the dark flashed like clips from a horror film through my mind, I focused on my breath. I worked my way down the wall, not even half way, but when I came back up to standing I felt a little more free. Free insofar as I felt just the slightest bit more aware of and comfortable with my own emotions.
(It would behoove me to connect this experience with the concept of Samskara. Perhaps another day.)
For me, in yoga it is the little things that get me back to the mat. Using the wall to come closer to wheel is definitely my new jive.
What have you been adding to your practice? How is it changing you, physically, emotionally?