I had read the theory of back bending, but obviously hadn't applied it to my own practice, I couldn't see myself clearly and in some cases couldn't make the connection to certain muscle groups on my own, without the helping hand of a teacher.
The work now is to spread the bend throughout my entire spine, to awaken my inner thigh muscles and keep legs parallel with unclenched buttocks and fully engaged bandhas.
In comes block work. This was an eye opener. Marci wanted me to hold a block between my ankles, another between my knees, and then with gluteus muscles fully relaxed, tail bone drawing to my heels and lower abdomen hollowed (uddhiyana bandha engaged) to lift up. No belly popping, no thrusting. To do this with totally relaxed buttocks took some time to get. But when I did, my inner thigh muscles started burning like they never had before. Had one of those 'aha' moments. This is how it feels to work the inner thighs fully, finally an awakening.
Have been continuing with this and the next stages. I am noticing changes. Am able to work my legs hard. also my arms are working harder. I don't feel any pressure in my lower back but some very strange muscle pains on either side of my lower back.
Actually, feel like I have back pain. I've never had a bad back. At least not since I was 15, and the doctor told me to get some excercise.. For a few days I worried, practiced gently, what did I do? I've been practicing correctly, following the instructions. Confusion and doubt crept in.
Consult my husband, a sportsman, who prods, questions and then bursts out laughing, telling me it's nothing more serious than a bit of muscle pain.
* * * * * One month later * * * * *
All is great. Still working with blocks and props trying to spread the bend along my spine. Am using my legs and bandhas much more effectively now. It feels amazing. Also my back no longer pops and cracks so much. For a while there I felt the need to crack it a few times a day. This has gone. Something shifted into place, and perhaps developed some long neglected muscles. The back pain I had, was indeed some deep muscle pain. Am enjoying working on this very much. It is tough for me as my lower spine does bend so easily, to control it with strength is taking some doing. I am enjoying working hard at practice again though, I can see, and feel change, not just in my body but my whole being.