Trying to learn two sides of a coin: Dropping back and coming back up

Funny — I look back on my last post about dropping back, and that was the only thing I focused on, the only thing which seemed to matter. How the freaking h*ll does one drop back??  Eventually I got over the fear of hurting my back, and had to get over the fear of landing on my head again. At that time, dropping back felt like the Holy Grail in yoga for me. It seemed so impossible, so elusive. Some people did it in only months, while it took others years. I had to fight my own resistance, especially after landing on my head. There were days when I fought with myself while I was driving to the yoga shala. Voice #1: Ida, why are you doing this? Voice #2: You’re tired, and you’ve a full day of clients. You need to rest. Why don’t you just drive back home and take a nap?

Because I need to do this! I say to myself. No matter what happens, I always feel better after yoga.

Still, I asked my teachers for guidance, my fellow yogi friends for tips, and boy did I also watch a bunch of drop-back videos on YouTube. In short, I obsessed about it for weeks…I still obsess a bit about it, because I’m still trying to get it right. But at least I know that I can do it, even after landing on my head. There are still moments when, midway down, I falter a little bit from fear. What does help — grounding my legs and pushing the weight forward from my hip bones, balancing the backwards weight of my upper body with the push of the hips forward. Focusing on a spot on the mat where I want my hands to land. Last of all, BREATHE!!

Then I realized something else. OK, so I can drop back regularly now without landing on my head and crushing my poor wrists to dust. But there is the other side of the coin: coming back up. Many yogis say that coming back up is harder, and boy is that the truth. And it’s funny how the mind now focuses on its next “goal”. Dropping back — OK, no problem, trust the legs, push forward, focus on a spot as you slowly descend (with control) down towards the floor…but coming back felt like a whole different story.

Then one day, while I was practicing at home, and feeling quite relaxed about the poses, I settled into a deep Urdhva Dhanurasana, with hands close to feet…breathed and focused all the weight onto my hips, and bingo! I was standing back up, before the shocked eyes of my husband and children. “Wow, Dad, look what Mommy did!”

Mommy had LOTS of trouble doing that again.

I tried to replicate this in the yoga shala and it’s been a shifty mix of trial and error. I’ve tried by mustering all my strength from my arms, only to land on my bottom…wound up trying to lift my body from my right arm inadvertently and injured my right shoulder…there were days where I just felt like crying as Andrew or David gently lifted me back up to standing. Then sometimes I do fling myself back up and almost into the other person in right of me because I used so much force. Aimee, our other teacher at the studio, chuckled warmly the other day, “Ida, you’re so cute. You’re just like, ‘RAWR!!’ from those backbends!”

I did not realize that I also roared trying to come back up…

Well, today something magical happened. I didn’t roar, or throw myself into another poor unsuspecting yogi, or twist my poor right shoulder, or land on my butt. I dropped back with calm intention, trusting the legs…landed softly onto the hands (or so I thought), settled deeply into backbend. Told myself it will be OK however it turned out. Took my time to relax. Walked my hands close to the feet. Felt the weight shift onto my hips. With breath and a small push, felt the spine unfurl back into standing…didn’t over-think it, just did it, trusting the hips. Was able to repeat it again, two more times.

I think that taking the time to slow down, relax, let the back naturally bend more deeply, and walking the hands to legs…helped.

It’s still a work in progress, but maybe, just maybe, I am approaching two sides of the coin now…and they no longer feel so impossible. Maybe Guruji was onto something…practice, practice, and all will come.

Of course, that is not to say that I won’t ever roar a little bit trying to come back up.

2 thoughts on “Trying to learn two sides of a coin: Dropping back and coming back up

  1. Well, this sounds familiar…

    I think it’s natural for the brain to break up seemingly mountainous obstacles into manageable chunks. Making peace with dropping back is the first step (something I’m deeply struggling with). Many congratulations on these milestones! Practice, practice, practice…

    • Thanks, and yes, you bring up a great point about the brain breaking things up into doable chunks…coming back up is still a challenge and fear point for me. I think it’s that right combination of intention and then “just do it” mentality? Sometimes when I think too much, it messes me up. As for backbends, what helped me was practicing with a platform, which you mentioned in your blog (which is very cool, btw). I visualized in my mind a great deal when I was not actually practicing. But like you said, practice, practice, and all will come…

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