Wow, I can't believe I just spent an entire paragraph justifying what I blog about. Why do I do this? If this is my blog, I should be able to blog about anything I like, right? (There is, of course, the separate question of whether anybody will read what I blog about, but that, ideally, shouldn't be my concern...). So here goes. Actually, I'm not just blogging about practice for the sake of blogging about practice. I do have a real question for those of you accomplished backbenders out there.
Over the last two mornings, I have noticed that my backbends have become deeper. Well, maybe "deeper" is not the right expression here; my backbends have been pretty deep for a couple of years now (for instance, I have been able to grab my heels in Kapotasana for a couple of years now). I think it is more accurate to say that for the last couple of days, something in my middle or lower back (or wherever) has opened up in such a way that I am able to achieve the same depth with less effort. I don't know what's been causing this openness in my back, and whether it has anything to do with all the shit that's been hitting the fan in other areas of my life lately. Maybe it does; maybe when shit hits the fan, some of that shit goes to your back, and makes it more pliable. Possible, I think, although I have no solid theoretical basis for this.
But anyway, there is one posture in which the effects of this openness have been most strongly manifested: Chakrabandha. Or maybe it's called Tiriang Mukhottanasana (TM). I don't know; I suck at nomenclature. Anyway, whatever it's called, here's what the "ideal" expression of the posture looks like:
[Image taken from here]
In case you're wondering, this is NOT me in the posture (those of you out there who have read Light on Yoga will, of course, recognize this as Mr. Iyengar, circa somewhere in the 1960s).
If you practice in a mysore room, and are at the point in the practice where you have been doing dropbacks and standups for a while, you will know that whenever you get to dropbacks and standups (unless you happen to be, say, Kino MacGregor), the teacher will drop you back and stand you back up three times (or more). And then he or she will assist you into whatever expression of TM your body is capable of doing on that particular day. After the whole thing, you will come back up totally winded, and then surrender into Paschimottanasana heaven with the teacher "squishing" you.
Well, things are rather different with me, since I do not practice in a mysore room. Since I have been mostly practicing by myself at home for the last couple of years, whenever I am done with the three dropbacks and standups, I just walk my hands to my heels, touch them for five breaths, and then come back up. It seemed that whenever I tried to go further to grab the heels or ankles, my upper body would just pop back up into standing position like a jack-in-the-box:
This is my body on backbends.
[Image taken from here]
But things have been feeling a bit different the last couple of days. As I said, something (I don't know what exactly it is) seems to have opened up somewhere in my back sufficiently to allow me to go deeper into this posture. This morning, for instance, as I was walking my hands to my heels, I felt this openness somewhere in my lower or mid-back, and I was able to touch my heels more effortlessly than usual. And then I thought: Well, why not try going for the ankle with one hand first? So, keeping my right hand on the ground, I walked my left hand further in and, voila!, I found myself wrapping the left hand around the front of the left ankle. And then I tried to slowly crawl my right hand in to achieve the same thing with my right ankle. And this is when my body became a jack-in-the-box again (except there was no box to be a jack in, but you get the idea...), and before I knew it, my body had involuntarily sprung up to standing. By this time, I was so winded that I decided to just call it a day and go into Paschimottanasana heaven, sans squishing teacher, of course.
So my question for those of you accomplished backbenders out there is this: How do you get into TM without becoming a jack-in-the-box?