Holy Mother of Backbends, Batman.
The intermediate series is going to break my back. Literally.
OK OK, I might be a drama queen, and yes of course the first half of intermediate series is full of backbends - I didn't need to tell you that. But when you actually DO it, it actually quite literally knocked the wind out of me today.
Oh yeah, that means I was given up to Parsva Dhanurasana today, by the way. YIPPPPEEEE! So yeah, you can imagine going from Krounchasana (my last pose) to Parsva Dhanurasana (well, finishing off with that last Dhanurasana before the vinyasa)... that's like... about 6 backbend variations.
*DETOUR* I tried to find Arjuna's pictures and HOLEEEE MOLEEEE! He's updated his site and all his lovely photos are no longer available on the website! You have to download them as pdf's! ARGGHHHHH! It takes a bit of fiddling through his site to find them, so if you're looking for those old pictures, they're here *END OF DETOUR*
Oh wait. Panic over. I found them. The problem is half the site is now in German and I no comprende. (Wait. Did I just use Spanish there.)
(New link is here. I clicked on "EN" for English but it's still showing up with half the stuff in Deutsche, so lemme know if you figure it out.)
Actually, seen together like that, all those backbends look so easy. You do them in any beginner's class and it's chicken feet. BUT... put them all together after doing the ENTIRE Primary series, then holding each backbend for 5 full breaths, and having a teacher pulling and yanking your feet higher and getting you to lift as high as you can, pushing and prodding you where you need to stretch more, give more, squeeze more, lift more and oh, did I say lift more again? ...that is, going at your MAXIMUM for all of those backbends in succession of each other... All those cliches you're taught about how backbends open up all this stuff inside you and release all these things inside?
Oh yeah, they sure as hell came bubbling up today.
I think my body was in shock by the end of it. I lay on my mat and if no one had been around, I would probably have groaned out loud. I must have laid there for quite a while coz teacher yelled across the room "It's OK to continue!"
...I just couldn't believe that I had to go into closing sequences and do MORE backbends AGAIN. Uh huh. After all of that pushing, poking and prodding I STILL had to close with MORE BACKBENDS?!? So yeah folks, that's 3 more Urdvha Dhanurasanas, 3 more solo-dropbacks, 3 more whatchamacallitasanas (arms crossed in front of chest and you get dropped back halfway and dropback fully on the 4th). Good thing I had an excuse of Ladies' hols today or I would've been forced into a handstand and dropover to backbend.
Yes, that is a string of expletives.
And that's exactly how I felt after the last Dhanurasana, before I got to the closing sequence.
I was totally out of my comfort zone, my body wasn't used to being pushed so hard in something so new in a loooooong time. And I think I was white with shock just realizing how much MORE strength I need. I mean, backbends have never been an issue for me... I've always been quite bendy.
But as teacher so rightly pointed out as I was laying on my mat, mentally gearing up to keep going into more backbends in the closing sequence, she said "It's about building STAMINA now in the intermediate series".
Wise words indeed.
Screw bendiness. I need more stamina.
After getting through the Primary series and building so much strength, flexibility and stamina... you feel like you're King of the world. Well... at least I did. You feel like you can take on anything. HAHA. Yeah right.
I think it's a different kind of strength required here and for me at least, I suspect some of that is more mental than physical. I mean for crying out loud, it's only BACKBENDS! Why am I reacting so strongly?! ...and getting so out of breath so easily?
The only upshot to all of this is, when I finally got to dropbacks... my back was already well and truly cracked open and I had no need to "warm up" a bit with reverse-namaste-hands/ hangbacks etc. I just dropped right back into it and everything felt nice and loose and open. Silver lining in the cloud I suppose.
I'm dreading working this hard all over again tomorrow. SIGH.