Bending over backwards to inspire

Yoga and champion may not go hand in hand in your mind. After all, yoga is neither  a combative sport nor competitive in any form. A person who is champion in yoga, therefore, is master of both mind and body. Looking to an extreme example of this awareness and discipline in practice is inspiring.

Some back-bending tips from world yoga champion Kasper van den Wijngaard

“There are many different back-bends but in general you have to bend from top to bottom, upper, middle, lower spine. Ideally you get the shape of a circle, no jagged edges. If your spine is open, yes, you can bend the whole spine — ‘whooosh’ — in a matter of seconds. However, in the process of opening up the spine, don’t be in a hurry to go as deep as possible.” Read the full article.

A champion in action

Enjoy seeing this video of Kasper van den Wijngaard in action, but remember, your practice doesn’t ever need to look like this to be beneficial. Just stay with where you are today. Every little step done with feeling, breathing and correct alignment is a step to healing.

Insomnia

A student said she had a pattern of waking up in the early hours of the morning and not being able to sleep again.

Doing some yoga before sleeping can help.  Avoid energising poses like the downward facing dog. Try instead Uttanasana the forward fold or Paschimottanasana, the forward bend from a sitting position.

With these forward bending poses, remember to move the hips into dog-tilt and breath to the first energy centre —muladara chakra, situated at the top of the cervix for women and just behind the perineum for men. Afterwards, do the child posture. You can also sit cross-legged and meditate (focus on the breathing and allowing more breath in on each inhalation and more breath to move out when you exhale).

 

The Bow or Dhanurasana

Dhanurasana

Dhanurasana (Erich Schiffmann)

Brings tremendous strength and elasticity to the back and spine. Stretches chest, shoulders, abdominal  muscles, thighs and increases the strength of the back, buttocks, legs. It tones the abdominal organs and stimulates the kidneys and adrenals.

My tips: By massaging the Liver, it also releases toxins which can give you a headache. Have water or tea  handy.  Go into the child posture, yoga mudra or tortoise after doing this asana.

Preparation pose for The Bow

1. Lie on your stomach with your chin on the floor and your arms by your sides with palms facing down. Bend your legs up so your thighs are flat on the ground and calves perpendicular to the ground and bring your feet together.

2. On an inhalation, bring up your upper body from the ground. As you exhale, move up your legs further. Maintain this position as you breathe out and on the next in breath, move up your legs further. When you cannot lift your legs any higher, turn your head upwards and gaze at the ceiling.

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