My pecs, I mean. I lost track of where the comments were that i wanted to answer on the topic of backbends, so i hereby start a new thread to answer, in brief:
Julie is right – the surgery screws things up. But not irreversibly, i am convinced, or rather hypothesizing. I hope i am right. Unlike julie, my surgery happened before i discovered ashtanga, so i have no direct comparison regarding before versus after. I will say that i have never experienced any nerve dullness or sudden nerve re-awakening. On the other hand, under normal circumstances, my pain awareness threshhold is high. Perhaps that makes it hard for me to connect with the necessary feelings in my pecs.
Unlike julie, also, ustrasana is easy for me, as is lagu vaj and bhekasana. They don’t add much to my mix for me because the problem is not my chest so much as my armpits. So, i guess it is about the insertion between pecs and…something else? Also, my delts are relatively overdeveloped, and so they seem to block my pits from opening up. Ustras does not address that.
I totally agree with julie though that we, she and i, that is, need to compensate with extra contraction of the spine, itself. I anticipate that this will be a long road, longer than if i were merely trying to soften tight muscles.
The ball is a huge help. HUGE!!! It forces me to shape my back in the way it needs to be shaped and molded. It gives me a template for reaching my arms up and back while in a back arch.
My bottom line: if i could learn supta k, i can do this too. Supta k seemed imposisible. At one time so did mari c. Now i can put myself in supta k and i clasp wrist in mari c and find pasasana logical and doable next step. Thus, the impossible can be possible.