A wet dreary Sunday.
The perfect day to potter off down the motorway to Birmingham to attend a workshop with Jambo Truong entitled ECSTATIC BACKBENDS.
I met Jambo last June. He was one of Ana Forrest’s 5 assistants on her UK Foundation Teacher Training course held in Peterborough at Equilibrium.
Jambo is based in Newcastle-on-Tyne but travels all over to deliver exciting yoga and educate people in the ways of Forrest Yoga. He is passionate, has more energy than I ever have had and brings joy and delight into my practice.
The workshop was held at Yoga Haven in their lovely studio. We three from Manchester got stuck on the M6 in very slow traffic but we were only a little late.
All Forrest Yoga classes are carefully structured and allow for the body to heat up deep within the core/spine. An intent is always spoken at the start and then after some neck-releases we moved on through seated spinal twists and into abdominals. Deep, deep inhaling and exhaling to give time and space to each movement…the belly really knows it has been worked..there feels to be more space and heat. The back begins to release and then into a long-held bridge to stretch the belly open and fire up the thighs, riding each exhale to release some of the pain and angst held in those amazing quads.
In order to backbend safely the spine must be warm. But, just as important is the need to lengthen the whole upper body, learning to telescope the ribcage and lengthen the tailbone away towards the earth assist in this process. Insufficient attention given to this opening of the ribs and lifting up out of the waist result in the back feeling jammed/crunched when you do finally move into camel or wheel. I know this to be true because my back always felt very fragile after a backbends class until I began to work with Ana.
The other very important consideration is the need to work on opening and lengthening the psoas muscles. As a massage therapist, I know that every ‘bad back’ that walks through my door has tight, knotty psoas muscles. Usually, one side is worse than the other and as these muscles become shortened through injury and/or sitting they lead to pain in the buttocks, fragility in the lumber spine and a feeling of weakness in the abdomen. Well that is certainly true of me. I have spent much money over the years having body treatments to release the back and level off my pelvis but by doing my Forrest practice I feel I have control over how my body is and know what I need to do to free myself of the pain.
So, lunges against the wall are the way to begin lengthening and teasing open these amazing psoas muscles, which incidentally are very ’emotional’ muscles and so as you work with them you may feel your body shaking, you may weep and you may need to do some amazing lion roars just to clear out the crap!! It’s all good..just keep on breathing, feeling and letting go!
Cobra and bow over a roll also assist in this deep work by pressing strongly into the belly and psoas muscles. Compression causes more release. It feels shocking but is so effective. I generally need to lie there and weep but Jambo is good at moving me on…and on!
Then, finally into wheel. Along the way were Sun Salutes A and B series with standing lunges and, of course, a forearm stand!
Eventually my forearms will be flat and
facing straight towards the wall.
This pose has been a tricky one for me.
I only began doing this unassisted last week!
Early days but proves that always more to learn.
After deep backbends Ana always warms you down using spinal twists. I was previously taught to do the counter pose of a forward bend but my back loathes that idea, and it feels deeply shocked going so rapidly into any forward movement.
Then swop legs so that top leg is the leg.
Keep the feet vibrant and active.
Savasana felt delightful. My body was somehow longer, my breathing deeper and easier and my mind was still and gentle…it seemed that I had managed to release some of my anxiety, tension and general everyday rubbish. I felt uplifted and my body enjoyed moving as we got up to go.
The next day my whole upper body ached but in the right way. Muscles in my spine were most certainly awake and my neck was free, as were my shoulders.
If you see a Jambo workshop at a studio near you then GO and join him. You will get so much from working in this deep way.
May we all walk in beauty..Aho.
A big thank you to Louise of Mayur Yoga who was our driver for the trip.
And to Clem who joined us to have a taste of Forrest Yoga,blessings..I do believe she felt inspired.
The photographs were an afterthought as I was too busy sweating and stretching to take pictures during the workshop. John kindly took a few of me in my room at home. Interestingly, my practice was nowhere near 2+hours and my spine was definitely not as supple…time is so important.