Backbends: A Journey of Discovering Fears

It has been almost a year since I wrote about backbends.  My feelings over backbends haven’t changed much, I’m afraid.  I don’t like the thought of doing them.  In Ashtanga, for example, we are asked to hold the wheel for 5 breaths.  And we do it three times!  Even as the the instructor would cue us to go into the pose, I would inwardly groan and do the bridge instead.  Or if I decide to go for it, I’ll typically hold the pose for only a couple of breaths.  Then I would just rest while the remainder of the class would do it 2 more times.  Even in my home practice, if I decide to do a back bending sequence, I would just do the wheel once.  Sometimes hold it for 3 or 4 breaths.  Then I feel so accomplished after that.

Indeed, I struggle with the backbends.  But this does not mean I avoid them all together.  In fact, it has prompted me to work more on my shoulders, hips, and quads.  And do yin yoga for the spine more often.  Slowly and gently, I have been improving on my wheel.  Still a long, long way to go, though, before I can be comfortable with them.

As I deepen my practice in cultivating awareness, I have yet to find out why I still struggle with backbends.  Deep down, perhaps, I fear the thought of moving backwards and surrendering my heart up into the sky.  I have to say, though, it is more of a hate-love relationship with backbends.  I hate moving into the pose.  But I always love the rush of energy that deep backbends bring, as well as the feeling of lightness and joy.

How about you, what do you feel about backbends?

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