For Vanessa, not my sister, the other one…

It’s not pretty, but here it is. This is an example of my non-vanity. Note the pastey skin, the non-cute yoga attire, the unfinished family room background.
Yes, it’s true. My backbend doesn’t look one iota different from the way it looked a year ago. Or at least not in this photo. It is entirely possible that it looks somewhat better today, after Intro to Second class at the CT Shala, in which I managed every backbending pose except Kapotasana A, which, even with Val’s assistance, saw me unable to touch fingertips to toes. THAT said, Kapo B was okay (the one with straight arms, hands on the floor), and I was pretty pleased with my Bhekasana. I’ve always had flexy knees. So flexy that they make up for non-flexy hip flexors and a chest that is just beginning to poke out from behind its armor.
I will try to swallow my pride and post some more backbending photos as I continue to plug away at backbending with more assistance than I had in the past. Maybe it will make the difference. Theoretically, it should.
Oh, and Posh-asana in class after NO marichi’s and no standing poses after Parsvotanasana? NOT happening. Humbling. The girl next to me caught her wrists. I kept falling over, and I wasn’t even binding. Val wasn’t giving adjustments at this point – she was practicing with us, a la her teacher, Tim Miller. She began to walk around and give assists at Laghu Vajrasana, which is also quite easy for me. Hey, something should be, right?
Oni helped me stand up from backends too, an unexpected gift at the end of class. One thing I can say about the Yoga Shala CT, it is a giving place. And completely accessible. The teachers are entirely unmysterious. And that is, I cannot tell you how lovely. A teacher who speaks in full sentences, imagine! A teacher who doesn’t just nod and smirk and answer questions with questions. I mean no disprespect to Sir – he is an amazing teacher. But it is a pleasant novelty to learn Ashtanga from someone who seems so very much on the same wavelength as myself.

12 Responses to For Vanessa, not my sister, the other one…

  1. laksmi says:

    it’s funny, my old certified teacher used to speak in grunts and clicks also–no full sentences, lots of noises, and just left a lot of us baffled. oh well. Hey, didn’t I send you instructions about working at the wall to open up those pits of yours? Do that daily, lady! it helps. It also helps to do more than 3 urdhvas and hold them longer than five breaths. punish yourself. that’s what it’s about.

  2. cranky housefrau says:

    i used to backbend over an excersize ball to open my shoulders. it helped a lot. i am not a natural backbender.

  3. laksmi says:

    i think it might also have something to do with yc’s replacement cans. I mean, they poke that shit under your pecs and that’s gotta tighten stuff up and change it.

  4. karen says:

    Tova, when you backbend over a ball, what do you do with your arms? I never feel like I’m getting much out of the backbending over the ball — but I sure do need the help.

  5. YC says:

    Yeah, I second the question. I lie on an exercise ball and have no idea what is supposed to be happening. Same as when I lie on a block. Where do I put my arms?

  6. laksmi says:

    i third it. the exercise ball seems like a nice little jack off, but not much else. I say cram your pits against the wall and push.
    yc, you are not answering MY QUESTION. Have you forgotten our backbending pact?

  7. YC says:

    I’m TRYING. I really am. But I am not flexible enough to get much out of it. I need remedial backbending. I need to go on the BOSE bus to Special Backbending Ed. PLEASE, Mrs. Laksmi, tell me what to DO!

  8. cranky housefrau says:

    i am going to post a picture of backbending on the ball later with an explanation 🙂

  9. karen says:

    Thanks, Tova! And Laksmi, as a reminder to YC (though mostly so I can benefit)will you do a reminder of your backbend-improvement instructions? When you say pits to wall — you just mean the thing where you line up your hands in the corner of the floor/wall and then do urdhva dhanurasana and try to smoosh your armpits to the wall? Anything else?

  10. laksmi says:

    yes, butt the heels of your hands against the wall and come up. then walk your feet in. do this every day and you’ll get closer. Actually, the 2s backbending will help a lot, even though it seems like you’re getting no where. Stay up for a long time whenever you do a backbend. Try to bring your weight towards your head and line up the arms right under the shoulders. you can even bend the elbows, come down slightly and walk the hands back towards the feet to get more vertical arms. gotta go practice now…

  11. The Mindbender says:

    You are funny, YC…”here is an example of my non-vanity”. Do I really need to comment on that? 🙂

    Your problem with backbends is that you don’t want to put the effort into them. Especially now that you have “official” permission to not do it. Why work hard on your backbends when you already have got Pasasana and you will get the rest of the poses until Kapo? Because your teacher will give you those. If she didn’t require that you dropback/standup for Pasasana, she is not going to require anything until Kapotasana, is she?

    But Kapo is going to be misery if you don’t start working on it now. And how do you work on Kapotasana without doing Kapotasana? By working on your backbends.


    Here is something very simple and yet incredibly effective: from where you are in the picture, work on straightening your legs. That should bring the arch further up your spine and open your armpits. When you can’t take it anymore, then bend the knees again and THEN try to walk your hands an inch or two closer. If you can do it, then it’s time to straighten your legs again. Repeat ad infinitum. That’s how I opened my backbends (and before you go on about how I’m a natural backbender, let me tell you that my urdhva d looked like yours when I was about a year or a year and a half into a dedicated Ashtanga practice, so we are not as far apart as you think).

  12. YC says:

    I’ll work harder, I promise. I want to see the exercise ball photo. And I wish any of you backbenders were here in NY so that you could give me a private.

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