What is Bowspring Yoga?
It is not easy to describe the Bowspring method, because it is so simple yet so abundant. But I`ll try it with the information I `ve gathered and everything I´ve experienced so far.
Bowspring is a modern Alignment System, inspired by Yoga and based on scientific research regarding body and movement. Philosophically it is based on a mixture of traditions, like Zen, Buddhism and western philosophical concepts. This unique practise has been created by Desi Springer and John Friend.
Contrary to classical Yoga the spine is never straight in a typical Bowspring class. Everything is curvy and toned. The natural s-curve of the spine is emphasized with the intention to keep this shape in our daily life’s.
Stretching isn´t just a matter of muscles, ligaments and tendons anymore. No! With special alignment clues you activate your fascial net. Something you will feel after some elemental Bowspring classes.
The alignment principles can be described like this:
The Radiant heart
You breath into all sides of the ribcage. Not only to the front, but also in between shoulder blades and under your armpits. The whole thoracic spine is thus lifting up. It feels like a balloon rising towards the sky. BUT definitely need lot´s of practise. If you manage to elevate your upper ribcage, you create tremendous space in your lower spine and can therefore curve your lower back without compressing it.
Special alignment of hands and arms help to open the shoulders, lift the chest upward, elongate the spine and keep the arms constantly toned. After some time, it actually does feel like wings, because arms and ribcage are so interconnected, that they move together all the time.
The roots consist of feet, legs, knees and hips. They all have specific alignment principles.
Feet are soft and the center of the palm is hallow, knees are bend and the upper part of the thighs is back and down. An important part play your gluts. They get activated through your feet and the action of the knees and hips. That way they help to stabilize the lower back and the whole posture. At the same time you strengthen and stretch the front and back side of the legs.
In the beginning this might be challenging because it isn´t easy to concentrate on all of them all the time. It does take practise to stay focused during Bowspring practise.
The interplay of all alignment clues keep the spine´s double S-curvature. Stretching isn´t happening anymore by lengthening the whole spine – you separate the different parts of the vertebrae and therefore open in a whole new way. If you add the activation of the fascia you get a quite unique experience of your body. You can feel your whole flesh move and expand.
But Bowspring isn´t just effecting you on a physical level, it goes way beyond.
How Bowspring affects you
The thing I noticed during my first class with Bastian Schlickeisen was, that I experienced my body different. I was for moments lost because I seriously didn´t know anymore where my body parts were supposed to point towards. This feeling repeated itself in following classes. You might call it an AHA-moment. Like when you change your behaviour (because you´ve read an article about how to communicate better with your spouse) and suddenly everything shifts. You realize that there is more. More inside you, more to discover, more to learn. Maybe nothing special because you can have this feeling with every kind of phisical activity. But I never experienced this so extrem then during my first few Bowspring classes. The body leads, the mind follows. I got hooked pretty quickly. I wanted to know more and started exploring.
Bowspring filles a gap. It is challenging and you have to concentrate, ergo, train your mind for meditation. It is mindfulnes in action. Secondly, it is simple but it isn´t boring at all. Sideeffects are: You get strong and flexible, without even suspecting it. Thirdly: You get self confident, because you get strong. After some weeks or month of practise you feel lighter. Your heart (thoracic spine) floats but you feel connected with the ground.
Bowspring has been a revelation for me. The practise is slow and tender yet strong: it is hard to hurt yourself. The only sensitive spot I´ve seen so far is the lower spine. Teachers have to focus on the radiant heart in beginner classes, so that the lumbar spine doesn´t get compressed. But everything else is suited for everybody. I´ve seen elder people practise together with youngsters. Pregnant woman together with teenagers. It is an universal blueprint for a better wellbeing.
I grew stronger and braver. I am a rebel and it feels great!