Before teaching my Saturday class, I did a low-stress, just-for-fun yoga practice at the private gym I work at. This venue has mirrors. I wouldn’t want to practice with them on a daily basis, but they’re nice for an alignment check every once in awhile.
It’s weird to see myself in the mirror. I don’t tend to spend time a lot of time looking at myself, so it’s always a shock. I’ve aged!!! And I look far different from how I perceive myself. Odd.
I warmed up with some Suryas and the fundamental poses, plus Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana. Then I moved into a series of hip openers (mostly lunges), quad stretches (a long, luxurious hold in Virasana) and hamstring stretches.
I spent a lot of time in variations of Eka Pada Raj Kapotanasana, trying to balance the stretch between my quadraceps and iliopsoas group.
Laghu Vajrasana was next. I used a sloped bench as the ‘stopping point’ for my head and came up and down about ten times, experimenting with the positioning of my head and shoulders and focusing on coming up with a strong inhalation, something I tend to fail at a LOT. I’m starting to feel more comfortable coming up.
My big Light Bulb Moment of day was head position coming up in Laghu. I’ve been leading with my head instead of my chest, which was making the pose awkward and impossible. The head needs to come up last. Duh. I knew that. Sort of. Well, now I do! And yes, I know that needs to happen when I’m standing from a backbend too. All of these puzzle pieces are gradually coming together...
Then I moved into backbends. I did just one Urdhva Dhanurasana from the floor, walked my hands in and held it, then moved over to the wall for hangbacks. I did several, trying to drop my hands as far down the wall as possible so I could practice coming back up again. Then I did three dropbacks to the floor.
The third one was the charm: my hands lightly plopped to the floor. It was SO awesome. I stopped there so I could end on a ‘high note.’ I’m finding that the more I can move my hips forward as I reached my arms back, the lighter my dropbacks become. When I can find that ‘hang’, the magic happens!
My feet were mat’s width distance today, which I think is the right distance for me. My biggest challenge these days is keeping my toes from pointing out as I drop.
Question for my reading-audience: How far apart are your feet when you’re dropping back? Is a slightly wider stance allowable?
I’ve become slightly obsessed with my hip flexors lately. Over the past few days, I’ve started taking little ‘lunge breaks’ throughout the day to stretch everything out. I’m feeling huge movement in this area of my body. I’m a bit sore, actually, but in a good way.
These opportunities for Quality Time With My Psoas seem to pop up everywhere. Here are a few of my favourites:
-Waiting for the elevator
-While riding in the elevator
-In the Dog Park (Princess Fur sniffs, I stretch; we’re a good team!)
-Before teaching a class
-Waiting for water to boil in the kitchen
-After a bike ride
-In the line-up at the library (didn’t even raise an eyebrow; they get too many crazy people in there)
At home, I’ve added ‘hangback breaks’ as well. This is particularly convenient while I’m in the kitchen. Hang back, go stir the vegetables. Hang back again, go check on the rice. Hangback, go prepare the tea.
Whenever I’m sitting for an extended time period, I make a point to stretch after I get up. Since I’ve been doing a lot of sitting around this weekend (reading), there have been many, many opportunities to counteract The Lazy with some light stretching. It feels good!
Here’s this week’s State-of-the-Backbend.
I wish I had thought to bring my camera with me today. I would be interested to see what my backbend looked like after the hip openers I was doing. Maybe next week...