See Life from a Different Angle
Hitting the gym floor for some Zen time to close of the workweek.
Like in business, life or any creative pursuit I’ve found that you’ve gotta have the mental discipline, physical application and self-awareness to embrace “flexibility” and mobility – particularly when things outside of your control tug or pull you out of your daily routine.
Ultimately flexibility brings you strength not only in the mind but also in the body. Plus it’s a great way to experience the world upside down and from a new perspective!
When Life Delivers Challenges (or emotional pain)
My favorite retreat when life delivers challenges is to dive deep into the body and hang out with it for a while.
The body has incredible intelligence. It has a unique ability to keep you present, providing you take the time to tune into it. Try holding your breath for longer than a minute and you’ll soon become very present. Your thoughts will begin to slow and your only urge in that present moment will be to breathe.
I’ve found the same applies to exercise.
During times of emotional turmoil like grief or anger moving the body in a gentle or strenuous way, and allowing that emotional pain to be there without resisting it offers such a release and freedom.
When I’ve experienced trauma, family loss and the heartache of that you’ll find me hitting the floor, working or moving the body in some way. Some positions can bring on tears, some can open up stored anger, bitterness, resentment, even rage. The lesson is to allow the body to run with whatever comes to the surface and release it as you move through your training routine (without any mental interference or analysis).
Over the years, tears have streamed down my face while under the weight. However, the heavy load of the weight kept me present with the emotional pain and that’s the point. You must lean into the sharpness of pain, the sharpness of life and not away from it.
The last thing you ever want to do – is resist anything that the body brings to the surface. Doing so works against your body’s inner intelligence.
“The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” ― Confucius.
My Best Tips For Backbends
- Always work within your range, warm wrists, hips flexors, triceps, elbows, chest, and shoulders prior to execution of the movement – if those areas are restricted or have limited range – you won’t reach full extension
- Don’t rush or force. Use deliberate movement at all times. Wait until your breathing and body feels ready to extend – you’ll get a sense of this i.e. For me my “sense” is my breathing and a state of calm only then will I’ll proceed
- Keep your hands close to the ears as you lift up, feet close to your glutes and gently push away from the floor
- Hold your extension and breathe for 10 cycles (no huffing) and absolutely no breath-holding
- The movement and the extension is in your thoracic spine, shoulders, lats, triceps NOT in the lower back
- You’ll need good shoulder strength and flexibility to carry the load of your body weight.
Additional Form Pointers
- Straighten the arms and legs as much as possible (my current work in progress goal)
- Stay off your toes. This is a compensation making up for inflexibility somewhere either up or down the kinetic chain. Keep feet flat
- Keep your gaze to the tip of your nose and eyes soft (defocused)
- Exhale and slowly lower – do not crash to the floor.
The Physical, Mental And Emotional Benefits
- The entire movement engages every muscle in the body, giving the spine the ultimate stretch
- Bends help to warm the system, brings flexibility to your central line of support (your spine)
- Strengthens weak back muscles after a long day of sitting. Opens the chest, promotes better breathing and unwinds computer hunch back
- Excellent hip aligner (for balanced squats)
- Increase determination and willpower (great if you are embarking on a new goal, or have had a tough day)
- The back extension helps you to embrace the unknown, trusting that your body (back won’t break) under the load as you confront your fears.
This movement takes time to master, do not rush and be patient and gentle with your body.
Sidenote: You may experience temporary “broken blood vessels” in the face or around the eyes – depending on the movement pressure/ gravity/body weight etc.
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