Wednesday, March 29, 2006

falling down

While I was on Cruise Ship X, I took advantage of my ample free time and my aforementioned utter lack of yoga classes to work on poses newer to me, stuff I had worked on a couple of times in class, but never really internalized. For me, that meant some of the more involved arm balances, handstands without a wall (still not there yet), and dropbacks. Sorry I should explain- a dropback is not a pose but rather a vinyasa (sequence) where one basically starts standing, and leans back until you land in wheel. (There are more complex variations where you start standing, go to wheel, press up to handstand, and then back to standing, but that’s way beyond me at present. Along with most of the, well, bonkers poses on this link.) I’d gotten to the point on the boat where I could do it very proficiently by walking down a wall, and last week in class a teacher helped me without the wall. A little shaky, a lot scary, but I did it. Yay me, I figure, and I figure from time to time I’ll try it in class. Not such a good idea, I’m afraid. On try number one, I got some of the way backwards, moved my gaze to see where I was, and of course went tumbling onto the floor, taking some poor unsuspecting soul with me. (Thankfully, everyone was OK.)

The problem here was the sneaking glance. For this to work, you have to trust that your hands are going to make it to the ground before your head does. You also have to be okay with that dreadful feeling of being suspended in midair. It’s the closest I’ve felt in awhile to that stomach-churning sensation at the top of a roller coaster just before you take your first hundred-foot plunge. It’s the body’s natural response to an edge- this is a tremendously vulnerable position physically, and the body, and the ego, say “danger Will Robinson.” But for this pose to happen, I have to be willing to embrace that edge, to see that fear as only a fear, and go anyway. And if I fall, I fall- wouldn’t be the first time, and I’ve gotten pretty good at falling without killing myself.

The point here is- how often do we face our edge at all? One of the great joys of yoga for me is that at least once a day I’m invited to go someplace in myself that’s not comfortable on any level, even if just to stay for a few breaths. And after a year plus of doing it, standing on your head isn’t so uncomfortable, it’s just another place I go. And that freedom invites me to go other places I’m not comfortable, in playing, in writing, in living. How often do we play an edge, any edge? So we fall down occasionally, that’s fine.

That said, now that I’ve been there, I’ll use the wall for a little while longer.

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