Over the past few months, several of the bloggers that I read have been sharing their experiences with standing up from backbends and with dropbacks.
...side note...I especially liked Karen's post when she ordered the "vinyl sand dune" for drop back practice!
Since a couple of my students are now on the adventure that is "dropbacks", this sequence has been on my mind.
There seems to be an importance placed on this sequence in a way that doesn't happen so much with other parts of the practice. I've been told that this is the one place in practice where everyone still receives attention in Mysore, even when there are 50 people in the room!
...So what's the big deal then? Why learn dropbacks?
I've been told that dropbacks are one of the "gateways" to second series because they build strength and control that are needed to safely approach the deeper backbends found in intermediate practice.
From my own experience, I would agree. Full disclosure, I'm a natural backbender. The bending part of backbends came easy. The dropping back part came pretty easy. The strength and control to come back up from the back bend did not come so easy. In fact, it felt like forever before I could come up from a backbend with the confidence that I would not use too much momentum and nearly fall forward or panic halfway up and end up sitting down out of it...ouch!
So, yes, I do think developing the control in dropbacks helped to pave the way for intermediate...but as I watch my students work through their own experiences with dropbacks, I think it's more than that.
The work in dropbacks develops mental and emotional strength. This sequence asks that you be vulnerable and strong at the same time. It asks that you trust yourself, trust your teacher, and that you embrace the fear of falling! These are all themes that have come up for me again and again in intermediate, but they are also themes that come up in life off the mat.
Beryl Bender Birch heard a saying once that she liked so much that she worked the idea of it into the name of her business "The Hard and Soft Yoga Institute".
The zen proverb as it still appears on her website reads "Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft, can you be extremely hard and strong."
...which is, I think, a great summary of the work which comes out of learning dropbacks.