Tag Archives: fear

Have You Been Backbending in your Practice?

Back bends seem to be really polarizing in class.  Some people love them and drop back with ease while others feel scared, rigid, and closed in when attempting back bends.  I think there is an element of working through fear in our back bends. It requires an openness in the front of the body that we often avoid in daily life.  We have to work through feelings of fear as we fully expose the front of the body or take the head back.

When I haven’t been practicing deeper back bends for a while I forget how amazing it can feel afterwards.  I can feel a brightness in my mood and length through my whole spine. I did some deeper back bends this week, with a lot of focus on lengthening the spine, and am reminded just how integral a part of the practice they are.

I found this video as well which has some inspiring poses in it. The ever-underwear clad and terrific  Briohny Smyth shows us how it’s done.  She reminds us to create length in the lumbar spine, use core engagement, and find space for our back bend in the middle/upper back. If you are afraid of back bends, maybe try them at home in your smalls 😉

Tutorial on Yoga’s Crow (Bakasana) and Crane

Crow is one of my favorite poses.   This pose is a foundational arm balance pose.  When you get this one, many other arm balances and even handstand start to fall in to place.

Just below is an absolutely awesome video on the physics of crow and crane pose. This video does a good job of talking about the center of mass and the bone stacking of the forearms (elbows over wrists).  Other things to keep in mind are:

Hands shoulder distance apart, fingers spread and the space between the index and middle finger aims forward.

Tailbone scoops under and there is a round to the spine.

If the kness are on the outside of the arms they need to squeeze in toward the the triceps and the arms need to press out toward the legs as well.  (opposition)

Don’t forget your bandhas!

The video below, I shot a few months ago after my blog post “yoga home practice makes progress”.  It is a  step in the goal I had set for myself, to do a handstand press, the crow to handstand transition. When coming into handstand from crow you need to find the crane position.

Crane Preparation

In crane, the arms straighten.  In order to achieve this:

Take the hips higher.

Place the knees into the armpits.

Hands as they are in crow.

Think bandhas and center of mass.

Almost there with the handstand press, hope to post a video shortly!

Remember to have fun!

Drawing Inspiration from a ‘Yoga Rebel’

It’s not every day Yoga makes the NY Times, but it did this week with an article on ‘yoga rebel’, Tara Stiles.  The whole article is here and worth the read. Yoga teacher Tara has bucked the yoga traditions in her NYC studio ‘Strala’ and is gaining popularity and critics like wildfire.  She just seems to be doing everything her own way, neither asking permission nor forgiveness.

As I read about her style, classes, and her book, “Slim, Calm, Sexy” I get a mixture of emotions ranging from “not sure if I like that” to “wow, amazing person”.  What has inspired me about her is not that she has thrown out the Sanskrit, axed meditation, or looks like and is a super model,  actually it’s none of the specific choices she has made.  It is this quote, “There are no rules in life.  It is a mind- set that limits people dramatically.”  Spoken like a true rebel.

Finding your own voice, paving a new path, and following your heart require courage.  Some people will love you for it and some will oppose you.  You have to find your inner rebel to shed the fear that holds you back from doing something in a different way.  And when you do this new thing, some people (or a lot of people) won’t like it, and won’t like you.  But if you know this will happen then you can overcome the fear of it.  Because actually we don’t need to be liked and applauded by everyone. We just need to be the best version of ourselves.

Today, I feel inspired by Tara, the rule-breaker and rebel.  I may not want to do things her way, but I am feeling encouraged to do them my way…

Taking the next step…

Lately in the vinyasa classes I take, we have been working on Hanumanasana, which is a regular left or right-legged split, as opposed to a split where your legs are in a straddle position.  I have never ever been able to do a split, with any leg in any direction.  There was a point when I was a kid, that I was pretty close.  But still, I was never able to get into the split and then lift my arms up over head.
I have seen some people get into this position pretty easily.  It is those bendy types.  They’re just born that way I guess.  And I have really longed to reach the full expression of the pose as well.  I have wanted to feel the freedom of being in my split and reaching my arms up and arching back in a backbend.  But I have just never gotten down to the floor all the way.  I used to grip blocks on each side of me and then work myself down to the floor, really striving for the split.  But it still never happened.
So, I’ve changed my tactic.  I now take one block and place it under my pelvis once I have gone down as far as I can.  I am then propped up on my prop.  Instead of reaching the floor I have brought the floor to me.  And it still feels like a stretch, trust me.  Now, once I get that prop under me I inhale my arms over head and look back at the wall behind feeling my chest lift and open upwards, sometimes bringing the heels of my palms to rest on my third eye.  And the amazing thing is; I feel it!  I am in it.  I am in the pose, without having reached the floor I get to experience the freedom of the pose.  And it feels so good.  Why reach the floor first?  That may never happen.  Why not feel the expansiveness of the pose instead, rather than the struggle?  We can get so caught up perfecting the micro that we lose sight of the overall macro experience.
And this was the thought that I could not shake as I was job searching today.  When I get concerned about money, all my thoughts go micro.  My vision and my focus shrink further and further in.  I am plagued by myopia.  And the trick is, to solve that quandary, I have to go macro.  I have to look at the bigger picture, I have to see the forest through the trees.  You cannot find the right job or career if all you are thinking about is paying the bills.  You cannot make the right choices if you don’t have the end result in mind.  You can’t make a plan, and then half way through start making decisions based on individual cogs in the wheel.  Big picture.  Big picture.  Big picture.
And that means sometimes you will be taking steps before you are “ready”.  Some steps are more like leaps.  But those leaps are necessary if we are to do something great with our lives.  They might feel a little scary and they might even feel like something we shouldn’t do because we didn’t get permission or “perfect” the step before.  But we are all capable of so much more.  We can feel, and be, and do so much more than we think possible at times.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson