Thursday, April 27, 2006


It isn't often I feel like I have monumental breakthroughs on the mat. There have been a few: balancing in the middle of the room in Pinca Mayurasana (Forearm Stand) and Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Hand Stand), learning to love Virasana (Hero's Pose), and the first Padmasana (Lotus). I don't get on my mat expecting monumental events either. I get on my mat to practice. However, I try to make space for the unbelievable and the unexpected to come through.

What I've come to realize is that the road blocks on the path to the unbelievable are placed there by fear; fear of falling, fear of failing, fear of pain, fear that the body isn't able or ready. Some of that fear is well founded because the body is smarter than the mind, and it won't go somewhere until it feels prepared. Some of that fear is just fear.

I've known for a little while that the major fear-block in my practice has been dropping back from standing into Urdvha Dhanurasana (Full Wheel). I have no issue if I'm being assisted into transition but the idea of doing it on my own sets off a chorus dis-belief in my head: your wrists won't support the drop, your shoulders will fail, you'll break your nose and you'll have to explain how you did it, you'll make a fool out of yourself. Knowing it's just fear didn't seem to help me get past it. I know I can come up to stand from Wheel, and that takes just as much grounding. What's the big deal? I've spent time with the idea, and addressed it as fear. I've worked on arm variations to get closer to the transition. But always, my head wins.

Feeling particularly curious yesterday, I spent a bunch a time on my mat playing with a bunch of Heart Opening shapes. I came up to stand from wheel and managed not to go flying forward. I felt grounded. Why not visit the idea of moving the other way? Hands on my hips, heart open, feet planted, knees soft, breath full. I could see a piece of platform (a little lower than half way down), and my intention was to put my hands there first and walk down the rest of the way from there. But I kept my hands grounding my hips and kept my heart flying. I let my hands go and they landed on the floor. I was in a wheel. My wrists and shoulders didn't seem to mind and my nose was in tact. I laughed, and asked out loud, "How did I get here?" There was no way it would ever happen again, I was sure of that. Of course I had to check that theory. It was wrong, and I was able to breathe my way from one shape to the other a second time. Jai Sri Ganesh! Jai Sri Hanuman!

I'm not willing to say that the fear block is gone. Maybe it was doing something else at the time. Or perhaps it's plotting a move to some other area of my practice. Only time and showing up will tell.

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