Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Return of the Dropbacks

Holy smokes! I did assisted dropbacks and stood up today! This is a *really* big deal for me! And it wasn't planned at all. DT spotted me doing hangbacks (which I started doing yesterday on my own, thinking it was a logical step towards regaining my dropbacks) and asked me if I wanted some help.

It's probably a *good* thing that I didn't see it coming. Longtime readers will recall that I've had a troubled history with this stuff, *especially* with standing up.

~begin historical recap~
At Shala Central (my old shala), dropping back wasn't taught until a student stood up (or at least, that's the way it went for me). I experienced a lot of fear and drama around learning to stand up from a backbend. Eventually, the teachers gave up trying to teach me and I gave up trying to learn. I felt like the shala 'problem child'. The whole experience left me bit traumatized and overly cautious.

I believed it simply wasn't do-able, even with help. During a workshop at Shala North, DR took me aside and encouraged me to try. With his assistance, I stood up easily from Urdhva Dhanurasana. Couldn't believe it! But I couldn't manage it on my own.

I was very keen to drop back though. Last summer, I taught myself how to drop back by working against a steep hill in my favourite park. I sealed the deal by dropping back to the 'scary floor' in one of DR's backbending workshops a few weeks later. For awhile, dropbacks were a regular part of my practice (and I was standing up from the futon for spell too).

After I was given Intermediate Series in August, I found out that D&J don't teach dropbacks in their shala until a student masters Kapotasana, so I shelved the whole project and decided to focus on deepening my backbends for awhile. Then I injured my shoulder and it became a moot point.
~ends historical recap~

I explained to DT that it had been about 6 months since I dropped back on my own and I'm 'not very good at standing up.' This was the Understatement of the Year. As far as I'm concerned, I'm the poster child for 'not standing up'!

DT proposed using a strap, which is new to me, but I decided to trust her and give it a go. I mean, what's the worst thing that could happen? Fall on my head? Done that! Make an ass of myself? Old news! Crumple into a miserable heap! I'm a pro! I figured that anything that didn't involve me crying in Savasana would be a 'win'.

DT helped me drop back very lightly and helped me stand up three times. No drama, no fear, no problem! (I know, I know! All that build-up and it turned out to be so...undramatic).

So I've been floating around in a happy backbending bubble all morning. All the other 'home practice people' will nod sagely when I say this, but here it is: practice is SO much easier with help! Daily help, not occasional workshop help. Getting consistent daily feedback and assistance is amazing. It *is* possible to learn these poses on your own (that's how I learned the Primary Series), but it's much harder and slower and more painful.

I'm so very grateful for the help!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Christine said...

Nodding sagely indeed! Enjoy the practice with help...so nice to see you enjoying your practice again! :)

sereneflavor said...

Huzzah!! I love that word. Very Happy for you, but please explain the strap.

Anonymous said...


Grimmly said...

Great news about the standing up, happy for you. Makes so much sense when you think about it, unplanned, no chance to think abut it too much.

Kaivalya said...

The strap is around my waist and she kind of pulls it inward, toward the centre (to encourage me to inwardly rotate my legs) and she also controls my descent. It seems like it wouldn't be enough support but it totally works.

I just thought of this, but I think I was using my legs more because the assistance was more subtle.

The stand-up was with assistance, but it's still a huge confidence boost!

Loo said...

huh? you mean other shala's don't assist drop back/stand up with straps, towels or just plain hands on hips?? That's how I've always done it. With varying degrees of assist. Big S just looms in front of you and helps with hands; tiny M uses a long cloth and doesn't take much weight, just controls the descent and rise. So are you saying that at your other shala they just let you hang there in misery until you fell on your head or dropped back? grimace!

it is just more fun with a teacher/helper if you have access to good ones! SOooooo happy for you!

Kaivalya said...

I never had help with dropbacks at the old shala (Central). To stand up, I had to rock back and forward and try to come up on the inbreath. Then the teacher would pull my hips forward to try to get me to stand.

DR (Shala North) would sit on the floor in front of me and hold on to the back of my legs. It doesn't sound like much support, but he's a *strong* guy. Plus, he was right at my ear level while I was in the backbend, so he could talk me down from my freak-out before asking me to stand up!

susananda said...


It seems really tough to require standing up before dropping back... I mean I know that once you can do it, you stand up from backbend and then do your dropbacks, but dropping back is taught first in my experience (don't know about Mysore though).

Liska said...

I wonder if standing up as a pre-req to dropping back was an olden-timey way of teaching? I've worked with DR quite a bit, and with two other authorized teachers just in workshops. Of the three, just one is adamant about standing up first (because the standing is harder and you should have the strength to do it before you drop). He also would let people go into second without drop-backs in order to build that strength, though, which DR definitely (agonizingly) does not... I know that the 2nd before drops thing was the way it used to be in the Long Long Ago...

Regardless, congrats on returning to the land of the droppers-back!

Anonymous said...

Yay, well done.