On Backbends and Bravery

I am amazed again and again at how this simple practice of moving our bodies can trigger such deep emotional responses.

Yoga is so personal - so intimate. The practice can bring you face to face with what scares you the most - private fears that you tell yourself about while you are supposed to be concentrating on Sun A's.

Backbends scare me.

I think it comes from the vulnerability that happens in these asanas. This innate want to protect your body from a position that might compromise the soul of your skeleton - your back. Back pain is serious pain. So many of us already have stiff bodies from sedentary lifestyles spent in offices, on planes, and in cars. When I unfold into a backbend, the edges of my mind remind me that it is a thin line that separates a space-making backbend from one that collapses us.

Yet it is amazing how a few focused hours on backbends can change your mind, or at least relax your mind around the poses.

The past few days have been a wonderful treat to spend time at Back Bay Yoga and reconnect with students, and teachers that have been truly influential in my life and my practice.

There has been a lot of backbending this week- and relearning how to focus on this part of my practice in a safe, informed way. As a person who collapses through my chest and needs space to breathe, backbends are a wonderful way to retrain my body to move into space, even when it requires a bend.

And beyond technique, and sequence, is the act of being brave. Coming into camel, or wheel, or even just bridge - takes a certain amount of trusting that your body will sustain you, support your back, and allow you to unfold in a pose - believing that your breath will carry you, and hold you while you open up more space.

Coming back to Boston after five months of making a life in a new city 3,000 miles away was an unexpected chance to evaluate how different I am since the move - to see the changes, both subtle and obvious, that have taken place. I have returned a few times prior to this week, and each visit felt like tugging at a band-aid on an open wound.

This time, there was closure. I was a visitor. It felt different. I was different.

I am different because I am a braver person. Brave enough to breathe, and to let myself be challenged by poses and situations that still bring me to a place of fear.

Brave enough to unfurl without looking back.

To bend without breaking.