Last Tuesday Giselle made me promise to come to her Jivamukti yoga class this week. With the new month comes a new focus-of-the-month (love that about Jivamukti!) and she knew this month’s focus would be good for me.
She didn’t spill the beans about what the focus would be, but it wasn’t a big surprise when I sat in virasana today (propped on block and blanket, since my knees really don’t like this posture), eyes closed, and listened to her opening talk.
Which was all about fear.
Ah, yes, now I understand why she wanted me to be there.
Fear of falling (and busting my sorry ass)
Last week I confessed after class to my great fear of inversions in the middle of the room, away from the safety of the wall. I burst into tears when I almost fell out of a headstand last week.
Guess what we’ll be focusing on this month? That’s right: inversions. Forearm balance, handstand, headstand. Any posture that brings up fear.
Giselle demonstrated how easy it is to fall out of a forearm balance and land on your feet. How easy it is to fall and not get hurt.
And still, I played chicken.
Oh, I kicked my legs up, I did the “assignments,” but even though I know I can do forearm balance and handstand against a wall, even though I’ve actually achieved balance for moments at a time without touching the wall (just moments, but still!), I couldn’t quite get myself to kick up hard enough to shoot for that same balance in the middle of the room.
I knew I was chickening out, and I still chickened out.
So what’s going on here?
Lack of trust
Well, there’s the excuse that I’ve got an old shoulder injury that’s acting up (which is true), and I don’t want to aggravate it (also true). But that’s just an excuse.
The reality is that yes, I’m afraid. I’m afraid I’ll really hurt myself.
Because underneath it all, I don’t quite trust myself.
I don’t trust that I’ll get all the way up and not fall backwards, and (even more important) I don’t trust that I’ll be able to pull off that falling-out-in-a-safe-way trick.
Taking myself where I am
I could have beat myself up about my chicken-ness, but instead I chose just to notice what was going on inside and let it be.
I know that the way to conquer my fear of inversions is to do them. I know that the way to learn to trust myself that I’ll be able to fall out in a safe way is to try falling out. I know this.
And I also know that right now, I’m not quite ready.
And you know what? That’s actually okay.
So I’ll coddle myself for awhile. And maybe I’ll ask Giselle to spot me, or maybe I’ll “cheat” and keep using the wall until I build up a bit more confidence. And maybe by the end of this month I’ll make some progress.
Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll do inversions against the wall for the rest of my life. (And would that be such a bad thing?)
The truth is, although I think being able to do handstands and forearm balance in the middle of the room would be smokin’ cool, it honestly doesn’t matter to me whether I achieve that or not.
What I do care about, though, is growth, and busting past limits. Although I’d love to be Smokin’ Cool Yoga Girl, yoga is just a petri dish for change in my larger world.
I want to push past my limits in yoga, because I have a very strong suspicion that it will help me push past my limits in the rest of my life.
My commitment: baby steps
So my goal is not to achieve a perfectly balanced handstand or forearm balance away from the wall this month. I don’t actually care about that.
But I do care about making progress. I do care about moving forward and learning to trust myself. I do care about proving to myself that I can do things that feel hard. So my goal is to try to go just a bit further than I’ve gone in the past.
Maybe that means kicking all the way up into a handstand in the middle of the room, just so I can try falling out of it. Or maybe that means doing a handstand at the wall (even if Giselle chastises me). Just one tiny bit beyond my current comfort zone is all it takes to make forward progress.