We do them from standing and are supported by our instructor Diana. She comes to each person and puts her arms around their waists to support them as they arch back and over. Here is my progression (I am in a 3-week yoga boot camp, btw):
- Week 1 - Day 1 - She came to me FIRST and I said "I can't" immediately and in my mind was all like, no, no way, I am too big, too out of shape, this isn't gonna happen, etc. She said "trust me" and put her arms around my waist, told me to stand with my feet wide, inhale, lift up my ribs, arms overhead, and start to bend backward. I did and I went back some, I am not sure how far, it felt like 3 inches... HA. The weird thing was that when I came back forward I just felt this immense sadness and burst into big ugly sobs. Thankfully we go straight to child's pose after backbending so I could just cry into my sweat towel... (I later learned from talking to more experienced yogis that backbends are heart openers and can release all kinds of pent up/repressed/stifled emotions - it was really good that I released something. I know what it was and may blog on that at another time).
- Subsequent days last week I would try the backbend, but was not over my mind hurdle, and Diana said to me on Friday "You are going to have to start trusting me." I decided to let things go for the following weeks and my goal was to get to the full backbend by the end of the boot camp.
- Week 2 - Day 1 - I was excited to try the bend! I was ready to go and when Diana came to me I went for it and pushed back and stretched and when I felt like I couldn't do anymore I started to resist the bend and she said "Do you have any idea how close you are to the floor?!?" I said, "no" as I flailed my arms and flung myself awkwardly upright and got into child's pose. After class a friend came up and said "you know, you almost had it! Good Job!"
- TODAY - I wasn't thinking too much about it. I was hoping to go as far as I did yesterday. And I lifted and bent back and let one arm go and then I let my mind go and the next thing I knew I hear Diana saying "THERE IT IS" and I felt my hands hit the mat and I hear myself saying "WOW! Oh WOW! and I was in a full bridge backbend!!! I heard clapping and wooo-ing! And Diana said "ok, release down and go into child's pose." And I couldn't believe it!!! I DID IT! And as I sat up on the mat I burst into tears, but they were good ones. I enjoyed my minute or two of rest before we moved on.
I am learning on this journey to let go of my Jr. High self, the one who can't, the one who thinks she isn't good enough, is too fat, and isn't able. I am finding that I CAN if I just let go and if I listen to my body and just try.