Mound your glutes
Breathe wide into your side or lateral ribs
Bring the weight into the front of your paw
hover your heels above the earth
Draw the energy up the back of your legs
Bend your knees
Make a soft gentle fist
Open your mouth
Keep your eyes horizon
Not your yoga teacher's classical alignment cues, right?
There's a new yoga kid in town. At least in my town; Copenhagen. The movement system Bowspring is slowly starting to influence some of the teachers of the yoga community here.
New movements, new cues, new sensations.
The Bowspring is said to work on our default dominance; the position our body slides unconsciously into daily as we sit and stand and move with limited awareness by systematically targeting the use of the posterior chain. It awakens the natural curves of the spine invigorating the system through an applied whole bodied tonus.
The Bowspring always focuses on accountability, mindfulness and compassion. It was conceived by Desi Springer and collaborated on with John Friend (yes, you know, the Anusara John Friend). The practice came out of a series of movement ideas that had been inspiring Springer in her personal practice.
"It encourages us to examine our movement patterns and increases our awareness. It is a dynamic vibrant practice that can be used by anyone and it is a posture that we could all use to garden, sit at our desk or stand at the sink to wash the dishes," says Christy Punnett, yogi of more than 20 years and founder of Livity Bowspring in Barbados.
For Christy Punnett personally Bowspring has been a radically different approach to alignment and to movement. For years her hatha yoga practice supported her and alleviated, but never removed the pain she was in.
"For me it has meant relief from chronic hip pain. It has also asked me to Zone-In and not Zone-out. I believe that the practice it is appropriate, even imperative for the time we live in and focuses on being grounded and building resiliency and accountability for yourself first and then your community, " she says.
Calls for assimilation
Punnett is the first teacher with whom I experienced this new way of moving. I have been practing yoga for almost ten years. Simple classical mainstream yoga, we could call it. I consider myself fairly experienced. I lost that feeling when I stepped on my yoga mat to try The Bowspring. To begin with I was utterly confused. Dismantling old habits are never easy. But in this case it was also eye opening and sensational in the very meaning of the word.
"The Bowspring takes a period of assimilation, some students find joy in the movement immediately however regardless of the initial feeling, the practice takes time to naturalize and to learn. No matter who the student is; how flexible, how athletic, how naturally strong, every student will have to go through the same period of mastering the subtlety of the practice," Christy Punnett says.
Is it yoga?
During her Bowspring-workshop in Copenhagen my confusion transformed into a "wow-this-feels-expanding-and-healing". I got into my lower back like never before. I got to experience how my right side breathing was contracted, and how I could make more space on that side. I felt my shoulders release in a way they have been longing to for ages. I was back bending and twisting with new and deep awareness creating more and more space breath by breath. All at the same time I felt my heart opening and softening and a lump in my throat came out through my eyes as happy tears.
This is yoga at its best, I thought.
But is it, I mean, is The Bowspring really yoga?
"For me personally it is outside of the realms of Modern Postural Yoga, it is just simply not the same approach. It is completely different in it's alignment of the spine and the utilization of the connective tissue. It is also made up of different poses, sequences and its rhythm is very particular to it. It focuses on maintaining symmetrical tonus throughout the body and especially the awareness of the posterior chain of muscles.
When we discuss what The Bowspring offers understand that we are speaking about it from the stand point of Modern Postural Yoga, that is; the yoga we associate with physicality and movement. Yoga is a complex philosophical system that has many branches and practices not all of which are physical or movement oriented. The benefits of yoga are great especially the breath and meditative practices. The Bowspring method is perfect for maintaining positive alignment, toning the nervous system, creating a practice of mindfulness and it's focus on Self Accountability", says Punnett and adss that Bowspring is very much a practice of self-awareness and physical, mental and emotional durability.
That I would call yoga.
Anyways. Call it what you want. I have a feeling that The Bowspring can revolutionize our yoga practice, body and mind - now with bent knees, on our toes and bouncing booties.