There’s a thing in yoga called “dropbacks.” You start by kneeling, or (more commonly) standing, then you drop your head behind you, arc your heart to the sky, and backbend so deeply that you end up stretching your arms out and overhead and behind you, then drop into a wheel pose, sometimes called upward-facing bow (pictured above). It’s SCARY, and it’s great for building confidence.
Before a few weeks ago, when I attended a yoga class on Daylight Savings with the appropriate theme of “Fall Back,” I had done one drop-back in my life, with the help of a teacher, from the kneeling position. I didn’t even know that standing at the top of your mat then just dropping behind yourself was a thing. It didn’t seem possible to travel backwards 5 feet and 6 inches to the floor.
And, yet, a few Sundays ago, with the help of a fellow student AND my yoga teacher (more support is better sometimes!), I did it. I fell back. (Though I did not spring back up like this guy.)
I tell you this story to tell you that self-care during challenging times is SO MUCH EASIER when you have adequate support. All of us “fall back” on our habits, either positive habits or not so helpful survival-based ones (sugar, adrenaline-fueled overwork, panic, etc), when life gets hard.
If we establish healthy patterns BEFORE life gets difficult, then it’s so much easier to “fall back” on our healthy habits when times get tough or when a yoga pose asks for all of your courage to be summoned and employed.
In that yoga class, I was partnered with a woman I didn’t know very well. We had done several other partner activities before we got to dropbacks and I kept asking her for firmer support (more press, or more push) and she kept saying she was afraid she might hurt me if she pushed or pulled too hard.
When it came time to do drop backs, she told me she was scared to hold my thighs (basically to act as my anchor to the earth) while I dropped back. Knowing that she was uncertain, that my base of support wasn’t that stable, I called my teacher over to help.
Having previous experience with her was helpful because it let me gauge that I would feel more comfortable with an additional set of hands since she was feeling uncertain. Likewise, noticing and reflecting on how you tend to support or soothe yourself during stressful times is incredibly useful information!
All of us have bad days where we turn to bad habits.
Let those days be informative. Use those setbacks to learn more about yourself and to assess what kind of positive supports you want to build into your practice of everyday life so that you can fall back on your best self.
My morning meditation is a non-negotiable for me these days. It feels essential for me to start the day in quiet so that I can be more available to myself and to others throughout the day.
Inspired by Ayurvedic Medicine (the healthcare system of India, often studied alongside yoga), I’ve also started drinking 32 oz of water every morning. The recommendation I received was actually 32 oz of WARM water with LEMON, but I’ve found the room temperature water to be more nourishing to me, and honestly I’ve been too lazy to buy all those lemons and always have them around.
Sometimes we don’t even have to go all the way to an extreme to have a healthy habit. Sometimes good enough is really great!
Having this watery support actually helps me feel more fluid and graceful throughout the day. AND if I get too busy and forget to drink, I can fall back on having started the day hydrated.
This autumn, as the leaves fall from the trees and everything is stripped bare, what kind of structure of self-care do you want to bring into your life, or continue, so that you can fall back on your healthier habits when times get tough?
You don’t have to do ALL the things, but doing at least A thing can be incredibly supportive. What’s your thing this Fall? I would love to hear from you! Drop me an email and tell me what you’re doing for self-care. Saying it out loud can really consolidate your desire to keep supporting yourself!