As much as I hate back bends (and believe me, I hate’em), I am getting better at them. Back in April, Esak Garcia came to a nearby studio for a seminar. I didn’t go because I was out of town, but I did pick up a piece of advice on back bending from someone who went.
I don’t know the context or all the details that were discussed, but the recommendation was about practicing camel. You know the standard set-up for camel, and you know where you would normally place your hands for camel.
That’s obviously the posture and not the set-up. I just love that picture and wanted to use it again. But we’re all clear on camel, right?
So the advice was this: Instead of putting your hands on your hips, put your hands in the center of your spine and then drop backwards. This will help open the thoracic spine. Now, I can put my hands on my butt, for a normal camel set-up, drop my head back, and see halfway down the wall before I even grab my heels. When I first put my hands in the center of my back and dropped my head back I could see….the ceiling. Right. I went basically nowhere.
Everyday before class I did three back bends with the hands in the middle of my spine and three regular camels (grabbing the heels and what not). I’ve been at this for about two months now. In the last week, I noticed something had changed.
First, in camel, I could get into the standard set-up, drop my head back, and see the floor (at a baseboard in first set) without even grabbing my heels!!!!
Second, when I put my hands in the middle of my back and drop my head back I can now see at least halfway down the wall, and yesterday I saw the floor!!!!!!!!!!!
So this technique I picked up second-hand is a good one. I am not recommending you try it based on my explanation here. Obviously you do so at your own risk. I had someone show me first. But if you get what I’m talking about and do it, I think it helps. My back bends are definitely getting deeper (except that one we do in half-moon. i think it may be getting worse. go figure). I still hate doing them, but I love the progress. And yes, it does ultimately feel good on my back.