Okay- so yesterday I woke up did my morning practices, drove to Breath and Body for my first Thursday Morning class there. Thursday mornings are listed as vinyasa and so I taught a flow sequence that was primarily standing poses and arm balances. It was a small group there but everyone worked very hard and seemed to enjoy the class. I worked with them a lot on opening up bhujanasana.
Bhujangasana is, in my opinion, one of the least understood asanas on the basic syllabus. It is taught around the country in many different methods in its adapted/modified form where you only take the chest up as high as you can without the use of your arms. While this modified form is very safe and very strengthening to the lower back, it is not the full form of the pose nor does it provide the immense and delightful opening of the upper back we need for advanced back bends. And if you can not sort all the elements out in cobra, trouble is certainly going to come your way in the deeper bends.
My opinion is that the modified form of bhujangasana is great for beginners because it will strengthen their backs and with those instructions (only come up so high as you can lift yourself without the use of your arms) the beginner will not run the risk of their arm strength overpowering the strength and flexibility of their backs and they will generally not experience much low back pain from that form. So it totally has it's use and purpose. But the key to the low back pain in the fuller form is not "avoid the full form" but learn how to use the Universal Principles of Alignment appropriately, over a period of time, to grow the pose intelligently.
Now, please do not get me wrong. I AM ALL FOR MODIFICATIONS when we need them and for certain effects. I have no problem with that at all. But I am more interested in helping people move safely and effectively toward as full of an expression of the classic pose as possible. And really, knowledge is power. You have to know what is likely to cause the problem in any pose and what principles when applied mitigate those problems and then you have to sort all that out in practice in your own body. It is an investment. I personally believe it is worth it and so I spend a lot of time teaching these techniques and trying to sell people on this very notion. I am not a yoga teacher who is likely to say, "Oh just hold this simple form while everyone else does the fuller form." I want to show people how "modified forms" are actually just stages along the way full of deep work and intense sensation and intelligent action. This is what I love.
So pick up Light on Yoga some time and check out bhujangasana. Really look at it (and where it goes in this lifetime or next.) It is a super deep bend. Then check out the back bends in the back like rajakapotasana, ekapadarajakapotasana and flip back and forth and compare the way his chest looks in those bends with the way it looks in the final form of bhujansasa and you will see that bhujangasana is no longer a basic bend. The position of the chest is almost, if not, identical. So then bhujangasana becomes a gateway pose to advanced syllabus.
Anyway, the group yesterday worked with this with great zeal and patience and made great progress. Desirae and I had the finest of "yoga geek" conversations about it in class and after class and on top of it all, the flow was downright fun. So Thursday mornings at 8:15 at Breath and Body Yoga - please come when you can. Plan on moving, breathing and occasionally stopping to refine and to learn because those stops are simply an investment in you, your practice and your body.
After that, I came home, did my own practice, ate lunch, and went down to see Spirit. She was pretty sedated early in the afternoon and Dr. Jeff told us to give it one more day. So we went down to the river went kayaking and then went back to see her. The sedative had worn off, she was holing in pain and very agitated and we knew it was time to help her go. So we put this most precious dog to sleep yesterday afternoon, cried our little eyes out and then came home for a meal together. We both felt sad and relieved. It was the right thing to do. She was no longer herself.
Today I head to Denver for a visit with my best friend there and a few days of the Anusara Yoga Certified Teacher's Gathering. But first, a walk with Moshie around Town Lake. Now that he is the only dog we have to entertain him a bit more!