I like yoga to be fun, just like I like life to be; but the practice takes us deeper into understanding ourselves, towards acceptance, towards peace, and there can be a lot of layers of blarney to go through to get there.
So all this is leading up to a fall… Nearing the end of an intense vinyasa class, drenched in sweat, deep in breath, feeling focused and stoic, the instructor had us practice either headstand or handstand. The class was packed and I felt more comfortable with headstand in the middle of the room. Nearing the end of the inversion practice, I was taken by surprise when a hand-stander came crashing into me. I didn’t see it coming but the moment I felt the hit I said ‘Oh shit’ and fell backwards. Immediately I went into child’s pose and gave the concerned instructor a quick thumbs up. I knew I was fine and not hurt, but felt this intense heat come over me. My face felt flushed, ears burning and suddenly hot tears pouring down my face. At that moment I wanted so bad to be out of the class and in the security of my home with boyfriend and cat.
Why was I so upset? I was resisting something, I felt mad and ashamed…
Where’s my breath? Ok let’s start with that, find your breath: inhale-calm exhale-heat…inhale-acceptance exhale-nerves…ok I’m ready to come out of child and follow the class into some heart openers- ahhhh more tears!? ok I’m releasing something, keep breathing lets observe what comes up and try not to tell too many stories…
Tears, sweat, heat, I am soaked, feeling vulnerable, sad, scared, but I am ok, I can stay with my breath move along with the class, nurture myself in some tender forward folds, and watch the intensity fade along with the rest of my world, all the stories, fears, judgments into savasana.
I have a few new perspectives about falling. Its not all fun and games. I had never fallen before in headstand, nor would I recommend it. It didn’t take me long to realize I wasn’t crying because I fell, it was what the fall meant. I was in a familiar yet risky place, totally confident and balanced in this space since I had been there a million times before, and suddenly life colliding into me unexpectedly and taking me down with it… A perfect parallel for the fears and tragedies that come with life that we must all at some point experience. Life knocking you over when you least expect it… when it happens how do we deal? And then how do we not anticipate and fear the worst when everything seems perfect? How do you love someone fully without clinging onto the fear of losing them?
What a challenge it is allowing yourself to sit and face the fears, experience all the feelings of sadness, anger, whatever comes up without running away. I think maybe the only way to get beyond the debilitating fear is to move right through it, not under it, over it, or around it, but to dive right into its center and breathe into it in order to move past it.
This time falling sucked, it wasn’t fun, but it was also a powerful experience; an opportunity to look into that “brutally honest mirror,” see both the light and the dark, have a chance to learn, grow, and maybe even overcome.
I guess the point of all this is I have an added perspective to falling: Facing your fears of falling can be incredibly freeing but can often be incredibly vulnerable, laughing and crying are equally appropriate.