Sunday, July 18, 2010


I woke with a feeling of dread and anxiety this morning. After yesterday’s failures, I felt weak and defeated-in-advance by the mere prospect of backbending. But I’m spectacularly stubborn! I never give myself the option of not going to the Shala, so I just go. I do my practice no matter where my head is.

Sitting outside on a bench, I closed my eyes and shook with the pounding of my own heart. Then I dosed myself with Rescue Remedy, took a deep breath and went upstairs.

I had a stiff, uncomfortable practice. Too many days off, too much Tamas, too much chocolate! I had to fight my way through the ‘Marichyasana slump’. I’ve lost some of my endurance! I could feel myself slowing down as I slogged through the last few poses of the series.

Backbending lacked brio today; I was tuckered. I did three quick backbends, another three, then plopped down. Given the changes in my backbending sequence lately, I wasn’t sure what would happen next. P was waiting patiently at the foot of my mat for me to come back up again, so I figured it was rocking.

I was right. Rocking is now a permanent fixture in my backbending routine. My teachers have raised the bar again.

Two rounds of rocking and I was done. I did finishing and then took rest, lingering a long time in a semi-conscious bliss state. At least I ended on a happy note!


I almost didn’t go to Shala North for the backbending workshop today. I was so frustrated by my backbending failures yesterday; it felt like a lost cause. I did this same workshop three months ago. I still have the notes. I still can’t stand up and drop back so what’s the point?

I’m REALLY glad I went.

I already ‘knew’ a lot of this information, but it was fascinating to observe which bits of it I had retained and integrated and which details I had dropped (and to pick those up again). There was also some new material and old material applied in new ways, which kept it all fresh and alive. I took fewer notes, but I understood more.

And this time I had a month of intensive ‘dropback’ work under my belt. I think I really *do* know how to drop back, my brain just doesn’t know I know. Today, I sent it a memo!

The first part of the workshop was spent warming up and going over basic concepts. The real work began when DR asked us to take a wide stance and do this crazy kind of ‘almost wrong’ dropback. I remember this from the workshop in April. The point isn’t proper alignment. The idea is to drop back any way you can and ‘lose the fear.’

Last time, I couldn’t do this without assistance. I kind of remember that I ended up working at the wall because I was afraid, then DR came over and coaxed me into trying it.

Today, I did this a few times easily with assistance! Spontaneously, I decided to try it on my own. My assistant asked: “You want a spot?” and I replied: “Nope!” And I dropped back, easy peasy!

Then I did it again, and again, and again! I was having a ball! :-D

As we moved on to the ‘standing up’ portion of the workshop, DR walked over to my mat and said casually: “Okay, just drop back!”, kind of waving his hand in my direction like it wasn’t a big deal. And I dropped back (like it wasn’t a big deal!). Then he helped me stand up.

This is really funny, because my brain doesn’t think I can stand up. Each I did it, my brain was all: “INCONCEIVABLE!” (my brain is a big fan of ‘The Princess Bride’)

DR seemed half-convinced that I would be able to stand up on my own today, but alas, no. But I could stand up as long as he was assisting, helping me root down through my feet and encouraging me to engage my legs. I did this over and over again with no problem (except my stupid brain).

I’m *strong* enough to stand up! When DR held my feet down and pulled my hips forward, I could come up on my own strength! The key is shifting my centre of gravity forward of my feet so I can get that lift by engaging my legs and my core. The adjustment offered a good bit of leverage.

I now have a pretty good idea of where I’m ‘stuck’. Those crazy lifting heels of mine are keeping me from standing up! As soon as my heels lift, my legs disengage and I lose the engagement I need to stand up. It doesn’t matter how much forward momentum I generate - if I’m not using my legs, it’s not going to happen. DR pointed out that my heels are glued to the floor when I drop back, so it’s not a lack of flexibility in my achilles tendons that’s causing them to lift.

There seems to be a disconnect in my brain, a lack of muscle memory for keeping my heels down and engaging the legs. If I’m static and grounded (and assisted), I can find that engagement and stand up. But rocking seems to trigger the disconnect.

I raced off after the workshop and taught private clients all evening, but when I returned home I unrolled my Manduka and did three wide-legged dropbacks to the floor, COLD. I had a bit of a meltdown before the first one, but once I did the first dropback, the next two came easily.

I hope this sticks!

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