Yesterday morning I spent 3 hours in a backbend workshop with John Schumacher. I already mentioned to John that I have a sacro-iliac injury that was the impetus for me to start my yoga practice back in college. So when things started to heat up, there were several of us that went to the "Lower Back Pain Corner". The only pose we really practiced differently from everyone else was Chatush Padasana. Instead of grasping our ankles or using a strap to reach our ankles, we placed our upper arms on the floor with our fingers up towards the sky, palms facing one another. This practice helped us to keep from over arching in our lower backs. It was wonderful to feel so safe and supported during this class.
We then moved on to Supported Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana over a chair. I know from previous experience that I consistently get an excruciating headache when practicing this rather benign supported backbend. So instead of letting my head hang in free fall, I supported my head and neck with two bolsters, allowing my neck to remain in a neutral position. This did the trick! I learned that the reason I get these headaches is from tension in my neck. Which makes sense because while my lower back is compromised, my upper back has full flexibility, so I probably overcompensate by extending my cervical spine. But just because you can do something does not necessarily mean you should and in my case it is never worth the effort.
Because of the care I took of myself during the class in warming up properly, I was able to practice Urdhva Dhanurasana without any support. And it felt fantastic! I am so thankful to have come to know myself and my practice in order to make this happen.
What can you do to support yourself today so you come to a full expression of yourself?