These two positions begin to bridge the gap between Camel, a vital posture in beginning practice, and Full Camel, the most accessible of the Full Backbends.
Preparation 1, with the hands on the back of the thighs (pictured top), is a remedy to the most common problem with Camel Posture: Once we attain a certain level of ease, we are temped to push the hips forward beyond the knees. Instead, we should keep the hips over the knees and bend the spine more deeply, lowering the head and shoulders. We accomplish this by placing the hands on the back of the thighs instead of the heels (as in beginning Camel) and lowering the upper body.
Preparation 2, reaching one arm overhead with the other on the back of the thigh (pic- tured bottom), helps us to open our chest and shoulders. By reaching with only one arm, we can become comfortable with this intense sensation while still supported and safe.
Breath will be short in any deep backbend. The lungs are stretched, and most of the muscles of breathing are paralyzed by the extension of the front side.
It is easy to panic when you feel the breath shorten. One of the vital elements of deepening your backbends is learning to stay relaxed even when your breath becomes quite short. If you sense rising panic, come out of the posture a little, and work where your breath can be calm.
These positions allow you to gradually deepen your backbend while still supported, helping you to overcome the natural fear and disorientation that are the greatest obstactles to backward bending.
Excerpt from the Ghosh Yoga Practice Manual - Advanced 1
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are scholars as well as practitioners of yogic postures, breath control and meditation. They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga.
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