Today I was thinking about my journey from fear, from hiding myself in an internally safe space and being fearful of opening up and being vulnerable. These days I enjoy the opposite, pushing my boundaries, constantly aiming to expand my world and being open to new experiences. The most important change in many ways for me is being open to the possibility of love and being vulnerable rather than protecting myself by never truly opening my heart to the world. Last Saturday I did a workshop with David Sye in Shrewsbury. This is the third time I’ve practiced with David and each time I seem to uncover a little more of the fear I hide even from myself. David teaches how it is fear that prevents us attempting to live our lives to their full potential and that fear is a tool of the ego. Opening our hearts to fun and love can help us to overcome the ego, and each time we recognise this the fear has less of a hold on us.
My first years of yoga practice involve a tendency toward the introspective and safety of the forward bend. It wasn’t until my practice developed and I began to understand the psychology behind our practice that I realized how much backbends and opening my heart space at my chest scared me. I’m fine when I’m in control, when I’m safe, not vulnerable. However the release, the vulnerability of an open hearted and expansive backbend terrified my psyche, my ego!!
I have worked on this through my personal practice. Investigating hip release and shoulder opening as a preparation for back bending. Learning the theory of lengthening and opening into the lower back rather than ‘crunching’ and shortening. Working with my core strength to ensure I’m physically able and that my restriction is psychological fear. Literally working with back bends from every angle. However it was not until my first workshop with David Sye, of Yogabeats fame, that I found myself with the urge to push up into ardha danurasana (wheel posture). Not being the easiest posture to then punch the air shouting ‘yippee’ I did wait ‘til I had released and counter postured to sit up grinning! There was no way I was risking any negative after effects when all I wanted to do was bask in the open, released exhilaration of post backbend feeling.
That feeling of strength as you push up into releasing resistance in hips and shoulders, allowing the body to open and release, to be vulnerable. Backbends are about trust, in yourself and others. Being willing to open to possibility, to love and to life in general. Backbending doesn’t just open our pelvis, where we hold emotion, our throat allowing us to communicate and our heart opening us to give and receive love…it opens us to possibility, to accepting fear as a challenge not a restriction. I now feel the spontaneous urge to open into a backbend more often! Personally in opening my heart I have been open to the possibility of being vulnerable in love. I’ve observed old ingrained defences and barriers come down. I’ve noticed myself change and explore a new spaciousness at my heart and in my soul! I am learning that another side of fear can be fun, and that accepting that fear exists and I will never totally remove it has allowed me to expand my potential, emotionally, physically and psychologically. I love yoga cos yoga has helped me to love!! We all get scared. You can but recognize it as a part of our ego; accept it’s there but don’t allow it to restrict your potential. Releasing the resistance to being vulnerable. Accepting that fun and love counteract fear is all part of the joy of yoga practice. It’s not about achieving the final posture..but more about how the physical representation of that posture tells you how far you have come on your personal journey.
Here’s a link to some other backbends you may wish to explore…
please work with them safely, preferably with your teacher.