4.19.2011

Practice Report and More Drop Backs

Really good practices so far this week.  Mysore last night with S's sub was fantastic.  She's one of those teachers who makes you try things the hard way just for the hell of it, just to see what it takes.  I love this because I so often surprise myself when teachers push me to take it to the next level.

Last night, she saw my half assed jump into Bhujapidasana, in which I jump into Titti, then release the feet down to snuggle my knees further up my arms and THEN go for the full pose.  She told me to try jumping into Titti and crossing the ankles in one motion, then lower the head down on the exhale.  I responded dubiously, with furrowed brow, "Ok, I'll see what I can do..." And then BAM!  I did it.  One motion.  Totally amazed myself.  And then I was able to recreate the landing today.  In tiny shorts, no less!  Entering Bhujapidasana this way does cramp my style on the exit since my legs aren't quite high enough up the arms for a nice Titti to Bakasana transition, but it's a fair trade.  I can still do the proper exit.  It's just not as pretty, but I can work on jumping my legs higher up over time.

I've also been able to get into Bhekasana by myself the past few days, which is completely astonishing given the inflexibility of my knees.  Frankly, I never thought I'd be able to do this pose.  I've always practiced it one leg at a time, but lately my shoulders are opening up and my psoas are growing long and strong from all the hang backs.  I'm feeling huge shifts all the way around the pelvis since I've been practicing Ashtanga, and more specifically since the drop backs. There's more sensation, more room to move around in there somehow. 

And, speaking of drop backs, I recorded mine today.  Actually, I recorded the whole backbending sequence: 3 UDs and 5 drops and stands.  It's been one week since the last video, but I don't see much difference.  The drop backs aren't bad -- the last couple are actually pretty nice, but the standing leaves much to be desired.  I just couldn't stay rooted in the feet today.  I think I may be walking my hands in too far and trying to stand from too short of a backbend.  It's helps to shorten it up a little, but I may be overdoing it.  Seems like I'm carrying too much weight in the hands before standing, which is why I end up jogging backwards after the first couple of tries. See for yourself.


Tips?  Tricks?  Ancient wisdom?  What's the deal with the backtracking as I stand?  S's sub instructed me yesterday to keep the head back, to really roll up the spine from tailbone to head.  I'm not doing so great a job of it here.  It makes me a little uncomfortable to keep the head back as I try to come up, but when I practiced with her yesterday, it did seem to slow the whole process and make the stand ups really smooth and nice.  I'd really like to cut back on the rocking and start standing with more control.

14 comments:

  1. I think you'll get it. It takes time.
    Take a look at your pelvis when you are coming up. It seems like you pull back and lose your balance. My experience: its all fear. I think you are doing fine though.

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  2. Thanks, Anon. I think you're right that a big part of the reason I start to tip back is fear. Gotta keep that pelvis moving forward. Much of the time, if I botch the first stand up attempt, then the stand ups to follow are usually botched as well. On the other hand, if the first one is good, then rest are usually nice and smooth.

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  3. Beautiful UD, you do it so nicely, I like how totally straigthen the arms on the last one and come full over them, very nice... You are inspiring me, I am a couple of steps behind you....

    As per bhujapidasana WOW! Congratulations!!! Well done! must feel sooo good to finally jump into it from the air

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  4. Thanks, Claudia. I like to press the heart forward especially much in that last UD to open up my shoulders in preparation for the drop backs.

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  5. Your standing up definitely improved as you did more, so I think that they'll just keep doing that with practice. Disclaimer: I am not practicing these right now because my lower back is still messed up from non-yoga related injury. However, from when I was practicing and enjoying them regularly, here is what helped me with the stand up part (I did my fair share of back-pedaling too) rock up onto the tips of your fingers but stay in Urdhva for a moment--with only your finger tips on the ground. I think that if you can be in a back bend like that, that means that more of your weight is in your feet, making it easier to stand up. Then, give another small rock and stand up--you'd be surprised, you may not even need the rock at that point.

    Also, I feel like if you bend your knees as you're dropping back, you won't land so far away from your feet and end up transferring more of the weight into your hands. Does that all make sense? It's surprisingly very hard to describe in words what I do with my body, lol.

    I think you're right, the back-pedaling happens when you don't have enough weight in your feet. It almost looks like your heels aren't grounded when you stand up. I'm with the sub too, I preferred really rolling up, with the head coming up last. Feels like you have to have more control over it when you do. However, I think that's more of a finese point--one that comes after you get more control over the standing up and have more weight in your feet.

    Anyways, those are my thoughts and my experience with backbends. I think you're doing great, just keep practicing and paying attention to what it feels like your body is doing and it will start coming together :-)

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  6. Don't lift your heels off the floor. Keep the feet really grounded and engage your legs. And leave the head back for as long as possible.

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  7. Hi Megan! Maybe you would want to post this vid at UnitedYogis, an online community specially created for yoga enthusiasts. You can also post pictures, blogs and make friends with other yogis. Signing up is free!

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  8. Tara - Thanks so much for all the insight. I like the suggestion to come onto the fingertips and pause to establish my weight in the feet first. I'll definitely try that. Rolling up with the head last seems to increase the fear factor for me, but it did slow down the standing and reduce the launch effect when I tried them with the teacher.

    V - Should I try not to lift my heels from the floor at all when I'm backbending, or just when I'm in the process of standing?

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  9. Generally speaking, it is not a great idea to lift the heels at all during any part of the backbend. Having said that, there are people who can only dropback if they lift their heels off, and I don't see it as a huge problem. But for standing up, you really want them grounded. Otherwise you can't engage your legs and this should be the action that brings you up. If your teacher is open to trying new things, do this: get into a deep backbend and have them squeeze your legs just about the knees. By squeeze I mean hand spanning the front of your quads (at the very bottom, just about the knees) and see what happens. This mere action has quite often made me come up without even intending to!

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  10. Hi V - Thanks for the clarification. I'll see if I can get someone to squeeze my quads for me sometime. How does that work, exactly? Do the thighs engage to resist the squeeze, which brings you to stand?

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  11. You know what? I actually have no idea. The first time someone did it to me, I somehow found myself coming up and then stared at the teacher with the funniest look of surprise. To this day, I still don't understand the mechanics of it, only that it seems to work.

    Sorry!

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  12. Hmm... the mysteries of yoga. Sounds fascinating! I'm really curious to try it out now.

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  13. Nice video. I think this is where my backbends are at too, must video and take a look. But yours felt the same. I have recently started lifting my heels on coming up seems to help on keeping my feet parallel, it's either that, or toes splayed out yet heels firmly grounded. Still can't figure out which is working better for me so I do both!! Good luck with yours! x

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  14. エスタ - Thanks! I know I should try to keep my heels down as I stand up, but for the life of me can't figure out how to do that. If I keep the heels down, I get no internal cues to come up, like it's not even possible. I haven't tried turning the feet out, but I don't want to develop any bad habits so I'm sticking with heels up while thinking about heels down.

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