Practice today was the Heart Opening Backbends class at Yoga Today with Adi Amar. The class was about 59 minutes, and after a brief meditation and about 20 minutes of surya namaskaras and lunges, went right into a barrage of backbends. It began with a few crescent variations on each side (hands clasped pressing into the front thigh, arms overhead, then with a twist), then onto the floor for 2 locust variations, half frog on each side, full frog, full bow pose, then onto the knees for camel pose. There were no counter poses held between these backbends, and only a couple of vinyasas.
The effects of practicing so many backbends in a row were interesting to note. At first, my body resisted. My shoulders hunched, and my breathing shortened, but after a few relatively long holds, the front of my body, especially my shoulders and chest, really opened up, and my energy level went through the roof. Exactly what I needed today.
This class also involved some one-armed downward dogs, with one arm grabbing the opposite leg for a twist. This is a position that never feels right to me. I am rarely inclined to practice it in my own sequences, but I have encountered it in both video and studio classes. Asymmetrical downward dogs put strain on my elbows and shoulders, even with the arm bones tucked firmly into the sockets. Isn't downward dog about finding symmetry, balance, and ease in the body? I suppose the asymmetrical version is an asana in and of itself, presenting its own set of challenges. My only fear is that practicing it more often will result in injury rather than strength. Any tips? Micro-bend the elbows? Magic bandha powers?