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Bowspring is meant for EVERYONE – it is a UNIVERSAL template of alignment. But initially, you might feel like Bowspring is not made for you and that your teacher is talking all sorts of cray-cray… put my groins where? Open what? Natural curves of my spine…?… but all my other teachers have told me to flatten my back!
The good news is you’re not alone, and your Bowspring teacher wants to help you. The bad news is the fitness and yoga dialogue abundant in our day and age is so opposite of what Bowspring teaches that you will feel very strange doing these movements. Open your heart and imagine a place where your body moves like the animal it is… where it can spring, jump, and bounce at any moment. That’s the Bowspring: a position of readiness, strength, healthy posture, and primordial in movement. Us Bowspringers go back to our roots as animals to re-discover our hidden movement patterns.
No it’s not a magic trick – Bowspring teaches us that our abs can be long and strong, and that doing crunches (shortening the abdominal wall) is not the only way to get core strength. Through various movements such as arcing the body, bouncing and twisting, you will realize that your abs have a lot to learn and can stretch farther than you ever imagined. Open and strong bellies for us all!
Bowspring invites us to hallow certain places of our bodies that require a certain degree of vulnerability and TRUST in your teacher. Hallowing your groins back (booty open) means opening your hips and pelvis deeply and feeling the deep sensations that occur. Hallowing your neck (chin up a little until your eyes are one the horizon) means opening your throat and being proud of who you are. Let it FLOW – these bodies we have are meant to be energized, used and felt all around! Bowspring teaches us how to light up the deepest and sleepiest muscles and tissues inside.
As previously stated, you will hear your Bowspring teacher ask you to move your body in ways that you have never heard before. Stay calm and give it a try. Experiencing Bowspring is the only way to learn – reading this and watching videos will only get you so far. Go to class, and go again and again. You just might realize why so many people all over the WORLD are falling in love with Bowspring.
TRUST yourSELF. You’ve got your own back! Listen to your intuition and see where it takes you. Ask yourself: is this making me feel stronger? healthier? happier? Am I healing myself or harming myself? What is the true purpose of moving my body in these ways?
I’ve recently been working hard on cleaning out my home – getting rid of things I don’t need or don’t love. It’s a difficult process, where I find myself fearing… “what if down the road I need this again?? Even though I haven’t used/touched this item in (fill in the blank, long period of time here)… what if I suddenly really need it?” Items AND ideas of the past served us for a purpose at that time. But they can also hold us back if we stick to them like glue, even if we don’t need it any more. As you practice any type of yoga I encourage you ask yourself if the idea or alignment your sticking to is actually something you need and love. Or is it only taking up space and you like to keep it around because it’s comforting? Be honest with yourself, and you will grow.
This is unavoidable, and I think the most challenging dilemma of sharing Bowspring. Us sitting, sleeping, slouching humans don’t use our butt muscles or lower back muscles as much as we’d like to think. In fact, the way that we use our front body more abundantly than our back body in our day to day life is reflective of our psyche as a species (I’ll let you think about that for a bit on your own).
Test your own body – what is buffer/stronger – your quadriceps (front thigh) or your hamstrings (back thigh)? What is buffer/stronger – your biceps (front arm) or your triceps (back arm)? Unless you’re an extreme body-builder, you’ll likely agree that your front body overall carries more strength and power than your back body.
That’s where Bowspring comes in. Throughout the practice, we work on strengthening the backside like no other. You will most likely be sore (like I was) for your first few practices. Pay attention to the sensation of sore – you might fear that you are hurting your back which is very important to listen to. Don’t hurt yourself. If you experience a crunching or pinching sensation in your spine, you are not doing the Bowspring. Go ask your Bowspring teacher for some help. If you experience muscle soreness in your low back (the kind of feeling you get when doing any type of workout on a muscle you haven’t focused on in a while), that’s quite normal. Take time off as needed, let your muscles recover, and then get back on your Bowspring mat… your back body is calling to you!
Seriously – I can’t emphasize enough how I never was able to hold a handstand or forearm stand until I learned Bowspring alignment. The usage of the back body to its full extent (explained above in #5) is exactly what allows for this light feeling. You gotta have it!
My spirit animal is an Elephant – I always identified with their heaviness and commitment. However elephants too can be light and lift right up onto their hind legs for food, or even run at 15mph!
In Bowspring, we look at the hands and feet as paws. We lift, move and engage the outer limbs in a similar way to the animals we observe. This allows us to gain a unique impression on our bodies of the full functionality of our musculature and ability to create lightness and freedom in our forms.
Bowspring comes with a lot of new information. This is a rigid pill to swallow for highly body aware yogis who come to a Bowspring class or workshop. Beginners mind is your friend, as does patience that this Bowspring method takes time to learn. Bowspring is not as straight forward as simply stacking the body from feet to head. It is a very complicated system of curves, spirals, spools, arcs, hallows and mounds. Be patient, keep attending classes/workshops, and allow yourself to be a beginner again to something ground breaking and new.
Once you begin to get a feel for the Bowspring, you might have difficulty attending other yoga classes. This is because many of the alignment cues in traditional yoga classes are different from what Bowspring asks of you. I think it’s best to attend any class with an open mind and follow the cues of the instructor to the best of your ability, while simultaneously allowing your body to play in Bowspring when you see fit. The comparison is mind-blowing when you give it a try, and you’ll learn a lot about your body if you creatively explore, rather than allowing it to get you frustrated. Rather than there being a ‘right’ way or a ‘wrong’ way to align for yoga practice, think about what could be the most optimal and informative for my movement practice here and now?
Bowspring is contagious, as is being proven by how it is spreading globally right now. It’s not quite as easy to share as your favorite pizza, but way more valuable for your friends. Once you’ve fallen in love with the practice, don’t be afraid to share it with the people you care about, your students, your teachers and anyone on the street! We’re in this together, and the only way out is to hold hands and close our eyes. Open your heart radiantly to the world you are in, share who you are with everyone you meet even if it scares you a little bit, take chances, listen to your dreams and someday you just might realize you got where you wanted to be without even realizing it.
Desi Springer and John Friend host online Bowspring classes and workshops on TINT Yoga – a premium online yoga platform with some of the world’s greatest yoga minds. Recently, they launched a 10-week essential training course that includes 20 video lessons along with a final exam and a certificate of completion. If you’d like to find out more about the “Essential Training Course of the Bowspring Method” click here.