I used to spend hours in my room doing back bends as a little girl. My orange shag carpet was my yoga mat and the reverse planche was my apex pose. Back bends made me feel like I was going somewhere and I often, obsessively, practiced and measured my progress. Heard of Nadia? Mary Lou? They were cool and all, but I was on my way to becoming the next Kristie Phillips (I totally admit it, I even had her signature mushroom haircut).
My head was not destined to touch my butt in a handstand, but that didn't stop me. As I progressed in my gymnastics' career, I often woke up in the morning with a deep ache radiating around the sides of my low back. This went on for years and I made a habit of ignoring it. Only later would I learn this was a tell-tale warning signal of my over-arching lumbar, known as Facet Syndrome.
Fast forward 30 years and now I avoid back bends like the plague. I have spent years diligently lengthening and decompressing my low back, correcting my "duck butt." I have a deep-seated disobey reaction when I'm in a yoga class and the teacher announces wheel as the next pose, especially if I'm not properly warmed up. I feel like mama bear with my low back, and nobody's gonna mess with her. This attitude shift is a new thing for me. I've spent so many years abusing my back, ignoring the boundaries, in spite of her pleas. Now I have real fear issues of hurting myself again doing back bends, and hardened layers of emotional scar tissue around striving so hard to be something I was not.
So why the hell am I co-teaching a Forrest Yoga workshop on back bending next week? As Ana Forrest says, "Teach what you need to learn." So here are some of the things I am in the process of learning:
All of these things are leading me to healing.
Forrest Yoga gives you the tools to use back bends in a safe, therapeutic, healing way. If you are working with back injuries or pain, come to this workshop. If you are the king or queen of deep back bends, come to this workshop. If back bends scare the crap out of you, come to this workshop. If you are just looking to get yoga stoned, come to this workshop (cause back bends will do it every time!). We will deconstruct key back bends, talk about important warm up and sequencing, teach you how to use the mat roll in a variety of ways to aid in decompression of the low back, provide modifications for back injuries, and so much more.
I am so lucky to be teaching this workshop with my fellow Forrest Yoga teachers and dear friends, Anne Haskett and Briana Franco, who will add their wealth of wisdom, experience, and healing powers to the yoga ceremony. And this workshop will be a true yoga ceremony, which you will discover amps up the experience and healing potential exponentially. We will call in the Four Directions, smudge, chant, breathe deeply, practice, and close it out with Ana Forrest's Future/Wiser Self meditation. This meditation is a powerful pairing with the physical practice of back bending, creating space and support for your heart's truth, and the kind of courage you need to walk into the future and connect with the person you most yearn to be.
It never ceases to amaze me what I learn about myself in Forrest Yoga. I used to bend my back in an attempt to become like someone else, someone I didn't even know. I disregarded my own truth for so long, but I'm smarter now. I know who I am now, and my future self is all the wiser.