Releasing into Backbends


Backbends. It’s the only groups of
asanas in yoga that scares the bejeepers out of me before I even roll
out my mat. The word scares me. 

They’re hard, aren’t they?

After a week of concentrated effort
(and almost two years of recurrent effort), I can power one hand
to one raised and shaking heel in Camel. I’d put this outstanding
accomplishment on YouTube if I thought it had anything to do with
real yoga. My pseudo-twisty-gritted-teeth Camel does not.

My Camel attempts have been push, push,
push, gotta get there even if it means squashing the heck out of my
lower back. Etc.

A survey of backbend literature
suggests they have everything to do with moving from fear to courage,
from fear to power. The word that shows up again and again, making me
nuts, is “release.” You don’t read much about bulldogging your
way to courage and power. You read, instead, about allowing, opening,
and releasing resistance.

Backbends are designed to open our
pelvises, our hearts, and our throats. They are designed to open us
to receiving the hearts of others, to receiving what the future
brings, and to trusting life.

Until backbends, I would have told you
that trust and openness are my middle names. Much of my time is spent
writing, speaking, and reading about love and courage.

Backbends are teaching me that my body
is not yet completely on board, that there is a bit more fear in my
body than my mind likes to admit.

So. No more pushing against my own

Starting this morning, all shoulder and
hip openers (my prep work for backbends) are done softly, gently, and
with a focus on surrendering long-ingrained defenses I no longer
need. I will encourage myself at whatever volume is necessary.  “Good for you. Let go, little goddess. IT IS SAFE TO LET GO.” Just as well that I’ll be practicing these at home.

Are you one of those backbend wizards?
If you are, tell us how that freedom feels. Are you backbend phobic? If you
are, can you see that changing?

Thanks to yoga for offering us opening
after opening after opening, and thank you for the conversation,


Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All
Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the 
and on 

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