My initial training was by instructors schooled in the Iyengar yoga lineage. In that practice a four-week schedule of postures is followed:
Week One - Standing Postures
Week Two - Forward Stretches and Twists
Week Three - Backbends
Week Four - Restorative Asana (Movement) and Pranayama (Breathing)
Four weeks in a month, yet it seemed to me that it was always “Backbend Week”. I think this was an indication of how much I disliked backbends.
We would do backbends over bolsters, over the back of chairs, even on a wooden contraption that I would swear was made by the same people who made the medieval torture device “the rack”. Why anyone would subject themselves to such extreme postures was beyond me.
Some years later enter COVID-19. My minimal case of COVID a few months back has left me with a few lingering issues: Diminished smell sensory capability & ongoing mid-sternum chest discomfort that hinders my breathing. These are two quite common COVID “Long Hauler” symptoms. Fortunately for me both are relatively mild compared to others who have found post COVID symptoms totally debilitating. (I suggest you get vaccinated!)
I will discuss my efforts to rebuild my sense of smell later. Right now, let us talk backbends.
Treatment techniques for COVID Long Haulers aren’t yet refined. Breathing exercises seem to be a quite common theme though, and for weeks now I have been doing them on a more focused basis led by my own yoga instructors. In yoga speak: “Pranayama”.
Yesterday we set up for an extremely deep back bend for my Pranayama breathing exercises. This took about all my yoga “props”, and by the time I was done it was quite the contraption. My body shape, remarkably like that “unpleasant” contortion that I used to experience in the Iyengar yoga studio. An openness and stretch across the chest par excellence. I will be damned if I did not feel significantly better afterward!
Maybe it should be “backbend week” every week...
Readers, this is a “don’t try this at home unless you have a lot of training” post!