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Laine Rinehart

Chest Stand

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Laine Rinehart

Does anyone else have experience in working within this range of spinal flexibility either as an instructor or by doing the skill themselves? I'm mostly referring to having the arms forward and the hands clasped under neath the chin as in the contortion face frame or Ghanda Bherundasana in Ashtanga. I know this is a rather extreme range of movement and this forum seems to mostly focus on strength and mobility as it applies to gymnastics but I'm hoping to acquire some feed back here. I have the range of movement to get the feet flat on the floor but I'm hoping to be able to lift my head off the floor more and reduce the sensation of collapsing in the lumbar spine. When I'm adjusted in this pose I'm able to feel a more even extension throughout my spine and I avoid that sensation but it's difficult to achieve this on my own. I am not sure where to engage in order to support this range of mo movement but I am also wondering if it's simply a matter of repetition and staying in the posture longer in order for it to become easier.

The attached photo is where I am at now with this.

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Cole Dano

There is no attached photo. 

 

Proceed with caution on this, that level of flexibility is highly dependant on the structure of the spine, and if your not built for it can be destabilising. 

 

 

Active strength for this would be built from a very solid Vipartia Shalambasana, ideally being able to pull yourself up into it rather than the more typical single leg hop.

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Laine Rinehart

Hopefully it worked this time. I've just developed enough active Flexibility and strength to be able to lift both legs into it at once so there is some progress there. I am also wondering if the front of the body needs to become stronger to support the spine as well. My other back bends feel fine but this movement seems to be where my limit is at the moment.

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Edited by LaineRL

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Mouclier Victor

That's scary ! :lol: 

You must fall asleep in a bridge position with this level of flexibility

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Cole Dano

Have a little common sense here, of course this feels like the limit.

It's very hard to advise you further with this online, but a couple of points based on what you've said to now.

Imo the upper chest and chin form the ground of this pose. I'd think trying to lift the head would be counter-productive. I always thought of trying to touch my thoracic spine to the floor when working this. Drawing the spine in gave the sense of support I think you are looking for.

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Laine Rinehart

Cool thanks for the advice. Raising the head off the floor may be unneeded but it's kind of a cool finishing touch and seems to take pressure off of the throat. I'm also working on touching my butt to my head in backbends including the chest stand but that will be a long process. I'll take what you said into account and continue to work on control and strength through the entire motion.

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David McManamon

How did you arrive at your current level of flexibility?  To safely proceed you will likely need a coach to help you learn to lift your head safely although a yoga block is one method.  Here is an example from an instructor in the NYC area that shows what your future will look like if you find a coach:

https://instagram.com/p/qE4Dw_yrh-/?taken-by=annavenizelos

 

There are a lot of stretches that may or may not be appropriate yet at your level.  It is a matter of correct technique, building flexibility through your entire spine, and spending time in the position.

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Laine Rinehart

A lot of it has been self taught through a variety of passive stretches over yoga blocks and bars. I regularly practice Ashtanga but my current level of back flexibility isn't challenged in the second series but my teacher has helped to focus on the stability of my back and has been instrumental in that regard. On occasion when I travel there is a highly knowledgable ashtanga teacher who allows me to work on backbends in the third and fourth series which includes chest stands. A variety of the adjustments he gives provides stability as well as increased depth in the postures. He's also played around with hooking my feet into my armpits while I am in a chest stand and handstand as well.(I don't have the control to do this on my own yet.) A chest stand with straight legs is one of my goals but it does seem a long way off.

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Laine Rinehart

I also meant to add that a lot of the stretching I do now is to target the upper and middle back through weighted stretching either with the use of ankle or wrist weights or light dumb bells. I also use elastic stretch bands in a regular basis.

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