Episode 2: L-shape - hips above shoulders

Sara
Posts: 6
Joined: 12 Jan 2021, 22:16

I did episode 2 for the first time today. And I really don't get the L-shape: I'm too scared to push my hips above my shoulders and wrists, as it feels like I'll fall over (away from the wall). I did a quick video, and there are 10-20 cm missing to put my hips above the wrists. Maybe my shoulders aren't flexible enough either, but I don't really know how flexible they should be?

I'll try again tomorrow and see how it's going. I'm also really exhausted by the knees bending and stretching with my feet on a chair or box. And I think that's also because my hips are way behind my wrists. And the jumping up with the knees doesn't really work for me either. No way my hips are going anywhere. (I feel frustrated at the moment, because I don't know what's missing or how to get there.)

This 7 week course really is something to chew on... Episode 1 was fine in the end, so I hope the same comes true for episode 2... There's definitely lots to be learnt!
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Natalie Reckert
Posts: 52
Joined: 17 Sep 2019, 21:14

Hello Sara,

Thank you so much for psoting your questions and for sharing your experience.

L-shape: It sounds like your shoulders are a bit tight. A good shoulder opening for handstands is when you lift the arms above the head and you can get them to almost straight above you without the ribs flaring. Here is a little lecture on the topic:
I would suggest that if your shoulders are tight you try to create a slight diagonal with yoyur body like I explain in this video:
That way you can use the weight of your body to work into the shoulder opening.

The up and down movement with the box can be hard on the thighs. My suggestion: why don't you skip those and do shoulder opening stretches instead. They will serve you better at this point.

Bunny hops: round your back as much as you can and if it still feels too hard then don't jump with both feet at the same time but jump from one leg to the other, left right left.

Stick with it, this course isn't easy. It works you hard, so you can achieve your goals.
Feel free to repeat episodes as much as neccessary, not everybody does thsi course in 7 weeks.

You are much stronger than you think you are,
Let me know how it goes,
Best
Natalie
Sara
Posts: 6
Joined: 12 Jan 2021, 22:16

Thank you so much for responding with such sound advice!

I'll have to try some of this and figure it out. It's definitely not the small muscles on the side.

But I am fairly inflexible with my shoulders: With that exercise where one makes the hands touch on the back one coming from below, the other one from above, there's miles between my hands. And with the leaning forward with straight elbows and fingers interlocked, my hands barely reach up to the ceiling, let alone to the ground. So there's definitely some muscle tightness there. There are just so many muscles around the shoulders...

I'll give the shoulder stretching a go. And I so hope it won't take a year and a half...

I'm learning so much and I'm becoming more flexible and it's just great, all in all! This almost daily practice really helps with improving, little by little. And, without me realising it, progress happens!
Sara
Posts: 6
Joined: 12 Jan 2021, 22:16

I've just tried the suggestion in the second video with the handstand facing the wall and the using my bodyweight (whilst I'm in a diagonal) to open the shoulders. And that does feel like the right way. I don't think I'm ready to get closer to the wall. I wouldn't know how to get out of that for starters. But with the diagonal, it's not so hard with staying upright and I think I can get a feel for body alignment and all that. And that actually feels good and right for my body as opposed to the L-shape, where I'm mostly at loss on what to do and which muscles to engage and then I get really tired really quickly.

Thanks heaps again!
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Natalie Reckert
Posts: 52
Joined: 17 Sep 2019, 21:14

Hi Sara,

That sounds great and well done for trying it all.

Good that the diagonal works for you.
Bodys are all so different, the L-shape works really well for most and not at all for some.

From your what you describe about your shoulder mobility I think the stretch on the wall with arms stretched out to the front, trying to bring the shoulders as low as possible, that will be great. Experiment with rotating your arms in this position (without bending your elbows).
In one of the later Episodes there is a stretch with elbows on the floor, pressing the palms together, creating a shark fin, that one will be good for you too.
And lots of mobility and active shoulder flexibility exercises.
I'm learning so much and I'm becoming more flexible and it's just great, all in all! This almost daily practice really helps with improving, little by little. And, without me realising it, progress happens!
Wonderful! That is how it goes :)

If you want to learn more about your shoulder I recommend these two ladies who have free and paid programs and lectures:
https://www.thecircusdoc.com/
https://www.cirquephysio.com/

Best wishes,
Natalie
Sara
Posts: 6
Joined: 12 Jan 2021, 22:16

Hi Natalie,

thank you so much for your comments!

I looked at the two ladies you suggested and I had to laugh a bit: I'm a quite strong but not very flexible person with maybe 5-10 kg of weight on my body that probably shouldn't be there. And then there are these photos of people who do the splits on ropes and what not. I can get beyond 90 degrees with my splits. So that made me chuckle.... (Nevertheless, I signed up for a newsletter. Despite the fact that I'm a physicist and not a circus artist... :lol: )

As I have some upper body/ shoulder/ neck problems at the moment, I've gone of the strengthening and endurance for a bit. I'm doing the first half of episode 4 now with your thoracic spine mobility youtube video for the second half. My physiotherapist reckons that I need more shoulder and thoracic spine mobility to get the problems fixed, so it all fits perfectly right now. I guess I can get the strength fairly quickly, because my body is good a building up muscles. I have to work hard for release and stretching, but muscles aren't too hard for me.

I was wondering whether you have any more suggestions for mastering the bridge? For the inflexible people? I could do this when I was a kid, but now even with the chair, I can't touch the ground really. I'll keep doing the rotating movements. Oh, and I just found this:

So I'll add a bit of that to my routine as well.

I'm having so much fun with all of this! Thank you for making these videos and courses!

And I hope, one day, when the pandemic is over, I can attend one of your classes and be an old and inflexible but eager student!

Take care,
Sara
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Natalie Reckert
Posts: 52
Joined: 17 Sep 2019, 21:14

Hello Sara,

Great that you checked out the circus phisio sites, some of my non-professional students made good experience with both. Don't feel out of place just because you are not a professional :) At the end of the day, it is all about getting to know your body better.

Good to hear that your are adjusting the course to your needs.

In the welcome and how to use this program video that is part of the course your should find a few suggestions on how to practice the bridge with limited mobility.
I think the two most important exercises are lying on your back on a ball with the arms above the head and also the release based stretch with a rolled up towel behind your back and holding that for 4 minutes, trying to find release through breathing.
Then I would recommend elevating your feet on blocks or a box for the bridge as described in the video. Make the elevation relatively high to start with, like 40 cm. It is a bit tricky to get into, as in pushing yourself up on your arm, but it outs your back into a much better position and gives you control over the angle of the shoulders.

So nice to hear that you are enjoying the videos.

The bridge one is really old :)

Hope this helped and have a good day!
Sara
Posts: 6
Joined: 12 Jan 2021, 22:16

Hello Natalie,

the "Thoracic spine mobility" video really helps! I'm doing this now almost every day. And things are improving! (Slowly, but that's very much ok.) I actually feel like I have some "structure" in my upper back know. Which is so liberating, as it all felt like a solid "Brett" for quite a while. It's wonderful!

I'm slowly getting there with the bridge. I can now bend backwards over a big ball and have toes and hands touching the ground. I'm still experimenting with my feet on an elevation. Pressing up with my hands from there feels kind of impossible, still.

Once the upper back / shoulder issue has been sorted out a bit, I'll try the endurance exercises. But at the moment it doesn't feel like the right thing to do. I tried the L-shape for a short moment and it feels much more like an L-shape now. So it's all going in the right direction and I'm still sticking with it and having fun!

Thank you so much for making this fun!

Have a great day!
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Natalie Reckert
Posts: 52
Joined: 17 Sep 2019, 21:14

Hi Sara,

Thank you for sharing this.

I am very happy to hear that your upper body mobility is improving.

It is a really importnat step towards a better handstand, thing s just get a lot easier once you can align everything well.

Looking forward to hear where things are going for your.

Best wishes,
Natalie
Katja
Posts: 15
Joined: 03 May 2021, 15:52

Hi Sara and Natalie,
I read your discussion about tight shoulders. I've the same. When I stand upright with my back against a wall and lift my arms above my head and back, my arms won't touch the wall. With pulling the ribs under and activating the abs it's of course worse, but even with a banana-lumbar spine, they won't touch. That's how 'bad' it is.
But - I practise handstands (with a movement class in Amsterdam, based on Ido Portal 'Crazy Monkey Movement', we also had a clinique of Yuval Ayalon last year) for about one year now and I'm able to balance about 5-10 sec in one of ten kick-ups. Yeah! But only with a slight banana-shape.
What I learned is 'don't get stuck with the perfect form too much, keep on improving it, but also try to have some balance-time even if it's at first with a less wanted shape'. There're also many ways of handstands out there: capoeira, brake dance. So, to begin with, I think work paralel with form and balancing is great also for your motivation. I know also, I'll never reach that straight a line as someone like you, Natalie. First, my body isn't built with a lot of shoulder mobility and second I'm 51 (doesn't bother me) and stretching, flexibility, mobility takes more time.
So, Natalie, I really don't wont to interfere with your teaching here!! I think it's great and I'm also learning with your 7 week handstand course. I only felt the urge to give Sara my thumbs up and tell her my way.
Yours Katja
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