I have a fear of rodents (squirrels don’t count – it’s the fluffy tails, I guess), Chuggers and handstands.
Handstands and other inversions. They strike fear into my core – something akin to what might be felt by a cow who has just been smiled at by the Burger King, maybe… Even as a kid I wasn’t happily throwing myself around in cartwheels (I used to attempt a bizarre half-cartwheel/hop affair when required, usually for P.E. lessons or to show willing during school breaktimes). In all my years on this planet I have, to date, never managed to do a successful headstand. As I recall, I was one of the last people in my class to master (and I use that word very loosely) a forward roll. Suffice to say I didn’t get my BAGA Award.
During forearm balancing and headstand practice in Jivamukti class, my teacher looks me in the eye and she tells me, “You’re problem isn’t fear, it’s strength.” I nod, but internally I am thinking, “Nope, pretty sure it’s fear…” Don’t get me wrong, it is strength too. I have tight shoulders and an apparent inability to hold myself up mixed in thoroughly with the aforementioned fear. I’ve always had an irrational fear that my neck will snap if I try to do a headstand (or is that a rational fear?). I understand that Shirshasana, ‘the king of asanas’ is an important, powerful posture but no matter how many times it is explained to me I don’t seem to be able to get my head around it (no pun intended). I struggle to understand where I am supposed to distribute my weight and it all feels wrong. Alien. Uncomfortable. Scary. “Don’t think you’ll never get there,” my Jivamukti teacher kindly assures me.
And handstand practice. Ah, handstand practice. No matter how many times during flow class my lovely teacher says, “It’s fun”, I’m not inclined to agree with him. That said, his handstands are amazing…
But recently, I’ve noticed something: I’ve stopped inwardly groaning at the words, “handstand practice”.
I’m not quite sure when it happened. My physical expression of the posture hasn’t changed but something seems to have changed in my head. And now rather than feeling like a part of the class where I need grit my teeth and simply get through, each little bunny hop is progress for me. It’s as if with each bunny hop, even though I may only be inches off the floor, a teeny bit of the fear ebbs away. Maybe one day soon, it might actually start to feel like fun, after all – who knows?
Headstands and forearm stands, well let me get back to you on those….