Why Backbends are more vital than ever in our world of living life on the smartphone!!
Why is it that some people are just natural backbenders and Urdhva Dhanurasana looks like a piece of cake? You simply flip up like a dome and yet for others of us Urdhva Dhanurasana is a great challenge?
Urdhva Dhanurasana as a backbend is really the backbend that begins to open up new dimensions of practice. So Urdhva Dhanurasana is very much a keynote posture and there are so many wonderful ways into that posture that the journey itself as we all know is the point, being on the journey is the point and not needing to get anywhere but having a simple posture in mind as we practice. And we find all of the component parts that help us to work on that journey towards this posture.
So first of all we can look at the classifications of backbends and the levers that we use within the backbends. So I need to in this introduction probably go back to the beginning and introduce how I’m going to structure the article looking at the physics and the structure of the arch and looking at what restricts us and inhibits us.
Some of us have muscles on the front of the body that want to stay contracted and take a lot of coaxing, easing and encouragement to psychologically let go. We know that the muscles that contract are switched on by the nervous system, but the muscles that release (antagonists) aren’t following any nerve impulse, they’re simply letting go within the pair-work that goes on in the muscular system to affect movement. So letting go of the abdominal area in preparation.. Supta Baddokonasana can work really well with this on the bolsters where the lower abdomen and the upper abdomen can just have a really passive time when the mind can let go, when the mind takes the awareness to the abdominal cavity and lets go. Then the ilio-psoas muscles which we spend so much time dedicating study towards, these muscles that are major big long hip flexor muscles, take a great deal of encouragement to let go. We find this in practice of the splits (Hanumanasana) and we also need to address it for Urdhva Dhanurasana. Then again with most of us in the way that we’ve been living since the late 90s with continual forward bending over computer screens, stiffness of the shoulders is another area to tackle. So if we start classifying all of our familiar backbending postures then we can start substituting backbends and this is particularly helpful when planning lessons and theming lesson plans for a course.
The neck and shoulders also need some systematic release and Pawanmuktasana and postures that lead to that softening of the shoulders. This is being explored to help teachers assist their students to work towards not only to somehow help teachers to explore their own practice but also for teachers to draw their own students towards this pinnacle posture. Urdhva Dhanurasana requires….is architectural ..like any archway supported by the columns, columns need to be firmly planted and the arch really needs to be…maybe I could even bring in tensegrity, this idea of tensegrity within the arch of Urdhva Dhanurasana.