TGiF Drop Back

Friday, May 9th, 2008

I am reading Iyengar: The Yoga Master,a book of essays compiled by his student and devotee, Kofi Busia. It’s a fantastic tribute to the living legend. One of the essays reminded me that Mr. Iyengar who is in his upper 80’s still practices dropping back from standing into back bends. He does this practice on Fridays. Just recently I have been dropping into back bends unassisted. It is incredible to me that I can do this. The moment that I actually let myself go and drop back is totally freakin’ frightening. Until today I had not been able to stand on a hard surface (or thin yoga mat on a wood floor) to do it. I only had the guts to do it on a softer cushioned mat surface. Today after dropping back two times in a row successfully, I decided to do it on the wood floor. And wouldn’t you know it, I landed smack on my head. Not a hard or dangerous or painful deal. I broke the fall with my hands, but they are supposed to hit the floor before my head–not the other way around. So when this happened it scared me for a few seconds, but I knew in that moment that I had to do it again. You know..the whole fall off a horse lesson. So I did it, and glory be…it was the lightest most beautiful drop-back I have done to date. I didn’t do the back bend, I was urdhva dhanurasana–what a cool thing to be!

For a very long time I thought dropping back was something I would never do. It was too scary. It was only for the pros. It was too beautiful. Somehow I didn’t feel worthy or something. Then one day I gave myself permission to think ‘maybe’ which evolved into “I WILL drop back’. Five years later dropping into a back bend is a part of my regular asana practice. This is the fruit of patience and practice. I am relishing in gratitude and joy today.

Although I have committed to solely practicing and studying Anusara yoga, I continue to hold Mr. Iyengar and his icca, jnana, and kriya in the highest regard. I will pay him tribute on Fridays as I join him in a spirited practice of glorious heart-opening back bends.