Joseph’s Tip #6: Backbends

I think deep down I knew that a backbending tip would be coming our way. But hey, at least it’s reasonable:

Do at least five backbends everyday.

Ok – I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of the backbend. Actually, that’s not true. I am a fan of the idea of backbends. I would love to be able to do wonderfully deep backbends. I imagine it feels fabulous.

I hate backbends because my back is soooo tight. I went to my PT last week, and told him I was seeing my massage therapist on the weekend. These guys are in cohoots. The PT called up my massage guy and told him how tight my back was and to make sure he worked on it. So backbending is one of those things that I need but is incredibly uncomfortable and miserable for me to do.

But backbends are good. I suppose.

Ok. They are. Joseph is right. We all know we should do them. Want to know why they are good for you? I found a great article you can read.

I also found something from Yoga Journal that says:

Chances are very good that if you are miserable in backbends, it’s not that you don’t value the benefits; it’s more likely that you have never truly experienced them.

So very, very true for me. I don’t think I have done them enough to fully enjoy the benefits of any discomfort I experience.

I do hope Joseph will have time to add a bit of commentary about the backbends. I suspect, based on spending all of one day with him, that when he says do five backbends a day what these backbends look like isn’t the issue. It’s doing them.

Of course I’m not saying do sloppy backbends. What I’m saying is I assume Joseph means do five backbends that are appropriately challenging and do them well. For me, that could be camel or bridge pose. I’m not rocking a wheel by any means.  And I am also guessing that they don’t have to be the same type of backbend (like five camels or five wall walks), but I am only guessing. However, it would be great to have Joseph’s thoughts about how those of us who are not currently loving the backbends might start (you know, Joseph, if you’re not doing anything….) 🙂

I like the recommendation for five though. Five is do-able. And yes, I know he said “at least five,” but for now, I’m thinking five.

I used to do backbends regularly everyday. I hated them (for the most part), but I did them. I started to like them a bit more over time. But then I slacked off on them. Why? I think I just got overwhelmed with everyone telling me to do X, Y, and Z so many times a day. But now that I’ve gotten things prioritized, I think I can add these back in.

How do you approach backbending? Are you a fan? What benefits have you noticed from practicing them regularly?

The Cost of Competition

I literally mean the cost of it all. I am not talking about the physical, spiritual, or mental costs. Those could all be discussed. I am talking about actuall dollar costs $$$. I’m starting to notice them. Let’s take a look at it.

First, I don’t consider the amount I pay to practice at the studio part of my competition costs. I have a good racket going on over there. I got into the all-you-can-come for one low rate package before it got raised (not a lot, but a bit as will happen over time). Let me put it to you like this, when I did my 66 day challenge, each class cost me $2.69. That’s a good deal. I would go to class this much even if I were not competing. So I don’t count it.

I also don’t count the gabillion dollars a year I spend on yoga clothes because I don’t need all those clothes. I just like to buy them.

What drew my attention to the costs was when I scampered off for a massage today. I like a massage as much as everyone else, but I was thinking recently that being regular on the massages might help me in the yoga room – and specifically with my competition postures.

I’ve noticed for awhile now that I have an imbalance. My left side is way stronger and better aligned than my right. This is what brought me in see a massage therapist on Friday. This time though I didn’t run off to the spa for a deep tissue massage or a massage with hot bamboo sticks (so amazing! Just do it). My acupuncturist had merged with a group of massage therapists, and they offered myofacial massage.

So on Friday, I went and had myself a myofacial massage. I cannot even begin to explain it. It’s not anything like going to a spa and getting a massage. It’s different, but in a very, very good way.

I explained to my therapist why I was there and demonstrated a few postures. He agreed that there seemed to be an imblance from my right to my left side, particularly how my hips were aligned. He also claimed to know why I am having a hard time getting my arms down below my calves in standing head to knee. I think he said it had something to do with my hips, but I got so much information yesterday it’s hard to remember. It doesn’t matter for now anyways.

I will say that after the massage I had better hip alignment in standing bow on my right side (my left isn’t that bad). I also bought a package of three massages (the 4th is free!). And, I also got some good news from the therapist which was: (a) my muscles are in very good condition. He ranked them a 9 on a scale of 10 and (b) while continued massage will help with my posture concerns, once a month is probably plenty. He also pointed out that now that I’m pushing the limits of my body it’s normal to start to notice alignment issues.

That’s how I just added about 100.00 a month bill to my life. but it’s not over yet.

In our initial discussion about my postures, my therapist asked me if I thought I had a strength issue or a range of motion issue. I said range of motion only because my postures don’t always hit the way I want them to. He said my range of motion was fine, but that I needed to build strength, To do this, he recommended going to see a sports physical therapist. Look at where this yoga has brought me! A sports physical therapist. Good grief. He recommended one session with someone to learn specific exercises that will help me build strength in ways that should have a positive effect that addresses my alignment concerns. Ok – I can do one session. That’s 75.00.  Did I say good grief yet?

All in all, I feel great today and am happy with the decision to get the massage. I will try one physical therapy session, and yes, I will do the homework and see if it helps. I’m on my way to take class, and I wonder what it will be like after this massage. My therapist tells me that Sunday I will feel amazing (he says it takes two days to really kick in the benefits). We’ll see.

It’s Always Something

Bikram yoga is an adventure in and of itself. But I have found that having a regular practice changes me or gets me looking into things that I might not have considered otherwise. For example, becoming vegetarian and cutting out the soda. And now my newest adventure: a myofascial massage.

I landed on a myofascial massage while at acupuncture. My acupuncturist recently moved his practice across the street and moved in with a group of massage therapists. Of course I had to see what services were offered, and I found they do this myofascial massage thing (which I understand as much as I can by reading about it). The prices were really reasonable so I signed myself up for one in December. I’m hoping that the massage will go well, and I assume I’ll continue on with it as I think it will be beneficial to my overall yoga practice (and health of course).

My goal in getting the massage is to work on releasing my hamstrings and lower back. Anything that will help me make progress in those two areas is a plus. I’m also open to whatever the therapist notices about my body and suggests needs work. If you read up on myofascial massage – which I have done very little of – I think you’ll find it can help people with a variety of issues and concerns. I read the description and immediately thought about my hamstrings and yoga postures so that’s why I’m motivated to go. I’m assuming though that I’ve just acquired a $100.00 a month habit +tip. This is in addition to my unlimited yoga membership (which is cheap. I go so much that it amounts to 4.45 a class), my monthly acupuncture trip, my monthly facial, and that nasty habit I have of buying yoga clothes. I may need a second job. Oh wait. I have one. It’s called going to yoga. I may need a third one then that actually pays.

Speaking of yoga clothes, the studio owner was kind enough (or devious enough?) to have a 20% off sale on yoga clothes. You know, if you buy two pairs of shorts the third is practically free when you factor in the discount. I’m just saying it was a good deal is all. I’m also saying I’m broke.

My coke saga also continues on. I’m doing well. Yesterday was a good day, and today seems to be good (although I have drunk half of coke #1 and it’s 7:20 am). I’m going to be holding at around 16 cokes a week for the next couple of weeks while I work through Thanksgiving and a trip to San Diego. After I get back from San Diego I’ll start cutting down. Looking forward to taking class at Bikram Yoga San Diego soon!