Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ashtanga and Fear

One thing I'm beginning to realize about Ashtanga yoga is that it really forces you to face your fears. Generally speaking I'm not a very fearful person however, if you throw in the odds of me potentially falling on my face then my fear levels are bound to rise proportionately.

How does this apply to my practice? Let's take for example the prasarita poses in the standing series. Prasarita padottanasana A, head to floor is no problem at all I have my hands on the floor to keep me safe and grounded. Prasaritas B through D, head to floor? No way, no how not without an assist. The funny thing about it is that on good days I can get my head millimeters from the floor but the slight shifting of the weight forward to bringing all the way down is enough to throw me into a full on panic attack. I fear that I'll shift too far forward and end up doing a forward roll onto my neighbor's mat, something that I'm sure he/she wouldn't appreciate.

Then we have my exit out of supta kurmasana, or should I say my pathetic approximation of the pose would be a much more accurate description. It goes something like this, lift up to straight arms, check; move one leg back at a time onto the forearms, check; balance check; look forward, lean slightly forward at catvari out of the pose, fail. There's always this moment of hesitation when my mind says "you want me to do what?" and that's when I bail and gently place my feet on my mat and continue on with my practice. One of the great assistants in the class once said to me "you almost have it, from there all you have to do is breathe". As sincere as she was with her words all I could do at the time was laugh at her advice because my practice still has a long way to go before I can just breathe my way into and out of difficult poses.

I am humbled daily, yet I continue to practice with the hopes that one day maybe I'll be able to face my fears by just breathing.

1 comment:

  1. I once got assisted in Prasarita C, the teacher miraculously got my hands on the floor, but my feet came off the floor and I ended up balanced on my head and hands, that freaked me for ages