The Fear and Art of Falling

14 Jul

There are a lot more things I’m afraid of as an adult that I don’t remember being afraid of when I was little.  For example, as a 9 year old kid I remember paddling out far into the ocean, hopping on the boogie board with my friend Lindsay and riding the waves to shore with zero reservation.  Not so much now.  I asked Lindsay if she remembered this part of our friendship. “Yes but I wouldn’t do that now,” she said.  Why does that happen, I wondered.  Why exactly am I afraid of being taken down by a wave?  Why can’t I do handstands or backbends or all those awesome things I used to do when I was little?  What is holding me back?  These are in fact, easy questions for me to answer.  It’s my fear of falling, of getting hurt, of my head hitting the floor on whatever I’m being thrown into.  And of course, looking like an idiot.  In fact, lets go ahead and put “Looking like an Idiot” at the top of that list.  I use the excuse, “I don’t have health insurance,”  when I don’t want to do something I’m afraid of.  So far, it’s worked.

I often tell my yoga students to pretend they are that seven year old kid they once were who wasn’t afraid to hang upside down from the monkey bars by one foot, who wasn’t afraid to swing as high as they could on the swings and leap off.    Because some things we try in class are a little scary.  You need to remember the inhibition and fearlessness you had as a child sometimes to allow yourself to really go for it.  So here it is ladies and gentlemen.  First you have to try.  Then, you have to practice.

Because really, if we want to be good at all those amazing, flying asana’s, to learn how to stand on our hands, balance on our arms with our face hovering 5 inches off the hardwood floor we have to actually DO IT first and then we have to PRACTICE!  Right?  And lets face it, we’re going to fall so we might as well stop worrying about looking like an idiot and fall/face-plant anyway.  How far down do we actually travel anyway?  Not very.

And so, back in September 2010, 4 months after teacher training and not even knowing how to do a decent Bakasana, I went to my first Arm Balance/Inversion workshop at BluePoint Yoga.  And it was awesome of course.  All I needed to do was learn how to get into these crazy, pretzel-y forms by hearing a tad of instruction.  It’s really that simple.  And after you learn technique, practice.  And fall.  And fall again.  And fall and get a bruise.  And watch the back of your arms bruise up a bit too.  And maybe fall on your face once or twice.

Want to see how I started out?  Sam took these pictures a few hours after that very first workshop.

Remembering the technique.  Is this right?

I”m up, I’m up, I’m up….!

BOOM!

Hey that wasn’t so bad!  Let me try it again.

And if you keep practicing, you will amaze yourself.  This is guaranteed.  You will amaze yourself with your strength, with your grace and your perseverance to do something you really really REALLY want to learn how to do.  I still can’t do a handstand without using the wall but I practice all the time and I know I will hit it soon. And as I get closer to my goal I can’t help but think to myself, “This is so fucking fun.”

Oh and that fear I had of being swallowed by a wave?  Guess who learned how to body surf this month, thanks to one quick lesson from Sam, Cindy and Chris.  And a special thanks to Chris who told me to put my hands in front of me to avoid getting hit in the head with anything.  Thanks for putting that vision into my head!

So good luck, good practice and have fun 🙂

 **To start practicing your Inversions and Arm Balances, come this Saturday to Nataraja Healing Arts where Dharma Richards will be leading a workshop titled, Advance your Backbends and Inversions from 2:30pm – 4:30 pm.  $25 dollars.

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