Saturday, 30 April 2016

No warm up backbends

In this video, one of my great teachers (Paddy McGrath, Dancing Spine Yoga) got a small group together so we could give a taste of what you might experience with her (for more of her genius go to

We all met at the beach at 7 am.  For some of us (me in particular) that meant waking up a bit beforehand and heading down.

We spent a few minutes trying to find a place to rest my computer so we could take the video--a handy park bench did the trick--then lay ourselves down on the ground (very bumpy as it turned out with the beautiful tree above us having shed a bucket load of marble sized seeds!).

And this is what we did.

We did a few more things like that, backbends different ways, some backdrops, a few squats, a standing balance.  Then we closed up shop and went for a coffee/juice/tea down the road.

The point is we woke up and a few minutes later we met casually on the beach and did our flicking backbends then left.  We did not spend hours or even minutes 'warming up' or 'cooling down'.

We did do a few 'rolling wall squats' (a type of moving from standing, squatting, standing where you try to keep your weight forward the whole time and prevent your butt sticking up and shifting back while pretending to slide your nose up and down an imaginary wall right in front of you).

Then it was "lights, camera, action" on our wiggling spines.

We all practiced our own variation of backbending.  We all have different spines so that is normal. We are not going to look the same.  But hopefully we all felt the same inside.  That is, with a delicious free and moving spine.

These back bends were as normal as walking.  Just another movement/action in our day.

Hopefully you do not need to warm up to go for a walk or take a swim in the ocean.

And so we practice with our back bends.  As though they are just a normal movement and part of our day.

My backbend at 7am after waking is not the same shape as one a bit later.  Indeed, none of my backbends are ever the same. But if I work mindfully then I can still feel lightness and ease of spine no matter when I practice.

We did not do warm-downs, counter-poses or anything to finish.  We did do a short standing balance pose to 'give back' to our spines, which looked liked this.

And our spines felt delicious.

If your backbends in the middle of the day routinely feel squashed or jammed then you won't be able to do the same thing first thing in the morning and get a different result.  You might need to adjust your technique.

Paddy gave us lots of different ways to free our spines, with specific feedback that was unique to our level of practice, our level of 'mental preparedness', and our level of movement.  That is what makes practicing with her so special.

When you practice in a way that is not striving for a particular outcome, without over-stretching or tensing too much then you find a beautiful space to work in.

Thanks to you, Paddy, for helping us find that space, for freeing our spines, and supporting our realisation that dropping down first thing in the morning to wiggle freely into a backbend can be entirely normal.

To practice with Paddy go to

If you can't make it then you can meet us here in Canberra out by the lake doing our own bit of wriggling.

And finally, I am not suggesting you all wake up and do backbends--especially if you have not learned to do them without squishing.  But perhaps be open to the possibility that it is possible and that there might be some teachers out there who can show you how!

Happy and safe dancing spines!
Much metta,

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