Rethink your training!

Rethink your training Bendy Anya
Written by Anya Shevelyuk

Are you an avid Instagram user who looks for inspiration and ideas when it comes to fitness and training? While social media can be a great source of motivation, it can also be misleading, especially when it comes to advanced poses like backbends. In this article, Anya highlights the dangers of attempting physical positions that your body isn’t ready for or doesn’t understand.  Rethink your training in order to avoid long-term damage to the neck and back. Read on to learn more about the importance of proper form and alignment in challenging poses.

Instagram is a pretty great way to get inspiration and ideas when it comes to training! But it can also be scary as many people are attempting physical things that their body isn’t ready for or understands.

For instance, I see many people posting photos of backbends where the main point of balance should be the chin/upper chest area. That’s all great if you can execute it correctly. But most people I see trying these positions are balancing on their mouths! Usually, they look like they are kissing or eating the floor or block!

This is usually because the person doesn’t know how to extend their neck and bend certain areas of their back to create the desired shape. Most of the time they end up rolling on their face just to make it appear that they are doing a deep backbend. In reality, all they are doing is faceplanting and putting an extreme amount of pressure incorrectly on their neck.

Practicing positions like cheststand or thinking pose variations (above photo) requires a large amount of extension through the neck, upper chest, ribs and hips. These positions also require a lot of EXTENDED FLEXION behind the neck, upper, mid and lower back.

When balancing on the mouth/teeth/lips in these positions, the muscles around the neck will try to protect you from the bad position by over-engaging themselves. This over-engagement causes too much incorrect flexion around the joints of the neck, which can cause sensitivity, nerve pinching, numbness in upper limbs and loss of breath.

In some cases repeating the incorrect positioning for a long period of time can cause damage to the disks in the neck. It could leave one with bulging, herniated or degenerative disks! It could also cause muscular ruptures and tears that can lead to blood clots that bring on aneurysms and strokes.

No amount of balancing on the face, kissing the mat, or eating the yoga block while practicing cheststands is worth that kind of lifelong suffering. Learn to keep the neck extension strong and use the entire backbend to curl around the head. Balancing on the mouth/teeth/lips will NOT help make your backbend better.

Rethink your position! Rethink your training!

About the author

Anya Shevelyuk

Anya grew up being in the spotlight. At a young age, she took up ballet and performed in several shows with Ballet Midwest. After retiring from the stage in 2007, Anya moved to Kansas City to train with KC Ballet. During the time of searching for her next path she was introduced to circus arts. At the age of 21 Anya began training in contortion and aerial arts at Quixotic School of Performing Arts. In 2013 she joined Voler: Thieves of Flight, an aerial performance ensemble. She has also traveled around the US independently performing and teaching aerial and floor acrobatics. In 2014 Anya relocated to Las Vegas to train with contortion legend Otgo Waller to further her career as a performing artist. She can now be found in the circus and burlesque scene performing rigorous ground and aerial acts. Whether it is a scandalous cabaret, birthday party, nightclub, or street performance, Anya strives to bring something memorable to her audience, leaving them inspired and amazed.

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