Shown above is the latest. I feel changes, even if not visible. And just in case you were wondering, I am not practicing in underpants. I am wearing boyshort bikini bottoms and a sportsbra.
Here is where it started the UD-ography started, nearly two years ago. My armpits are clearly very tight and restricted. My arms and chest form an almost 45 degree angle, when ideally they would be 180 degrees. My back barely bends and the expanse between my sternum and knees is nearly flat:
Then there was this a few months late. My armpits are still restricted – you can see the fake saline boobs standing motionless, like rock-hard mountains on my chest. This is most likely the root of all problems in my backbending back then. The expanse between sternum and knees is no longer flat as my lumbar spine begins to have some flex in it. Clearly my hip flexors are quite stiff though, and my knees are bent too deeply, but that was the only place where I could freely bend back then. Also, notice that my palms are lifting off the ground. I had a very hard time making palm to floor contact then:
Not long after I had surgery to, among other things, remove all that nasty scar tissue that had begun to strangle my mobility, particularly in my armpits and the fronts of my shoulders, there was this marked improvement. Still, the hip flexors are restricting movement in the lower half of the backbend, so it appears that my ass is dragging the whole thing down. It wasn’t! I swear! You can also see where my hip flexors jut slightly downward instead of pressing up. My palms are getting more contact with the ground, and that is an improvement.
Lately, there has been this (taken not long after I moved into this house, July 2008). My hip flexors are just barely beginning to allow me to push through my legs into my feet, and my armpits are showing signs of softening.
The most recent before today, which was getting better. But this is before I had my 15 Minutes With Kino, in which I learned how to engage my legs, push through my feet and -DUH-engage uddiyana bandha to actually get a deeper backbend (seems so counterintuitive – to firm the stomach in order to soften a backbend, but hell, it seems to work). The main difference between then (just a few weeks ago) and now is that I am now engaging my legs, maintaining that firm belly and pressing into my feet, with the visual result being a backbend that is (1) less painful and (2) more evenly distributed throughout my spine (as shown below):