Fear automatically settled into my bones when the yoga instructor said, “Ok now pull your mats close to the wall. We need to use the wall for the next little bit.” That sick, deep, vibrating feeling started emanating from my core. I knew that when we are using the wall in class the teacher is presenting us with inversion poses, those are the kinds of poses where your head is lower than your hips and usually your feet are up in the air. Now good teachers will tell you that you will get the full benefits of an inversion pose by just placing your head below your hips and that even if you don’t get your legs up you are getting the most your body can get out of the pose. I have been practicing yoga for more than 12 years now, and I have never practiced inversion poses. Well, that’s a lie. It was Thanksgiving morning about 10 years ago and there was a guest instructor at my yoga studio. I put the turkey in the stove early in the morning and was able to get to the class. I thought it would be wonderful to get some time in for me since my household would be bustling with family and children and I would be the hostess that day. So I stole away to class. This particular teacher had us, at one point move to the wall to do a shoulder stand. Something I shied away from normally, because as I mentioned fear was a long standing response to my lower body holding up my upper body. But something in me said, “Do it.” And so I did and got into a very nice shoulder stand. As the instructor was reminding us to use our shoulders and to not put any pressure on our necks I tried to shift myself, because now I was of course worried about my neck, and I tipped over in a very awkward fashion and I felt my neck twist in a way it was not meant to twist. After ice packs and minutes of feeling stunned and embarrassed, I trudged home and felt miserable about my neck and about shoulder stands. It made the chores of the day difficult, but I recovered physically nonetheless. Clearly, only my pride had been broken.
Here I was again today faced with an inversion pose. This time it was to be an arm stand. I immediately said, “I’m not gonna do it.” But I sucked up the fear and said, “Well, I gotta try.” I will save you time now, you don’t have to read to the end. I didn’t do the arm stand with my legs all the way up in the air. But I tried. I tried it over and over. I planted my forearms. The instructor came over and gave me direction on how to pull belly and legs together. I commanded my core to pull in and for my legs to shift up, however, there was something missing. I kept kicking and trying. My body, I believe is strong enough. I know I can do a modified handstand against the wall at the gym. We go into that position and sometimes hold it for 30 seconds. So I can be upside down. I can use my upper body strength to hold myself up in that kind of position. Why was this so different? What was missing?
On the drive home from the yoga studio, I thought about how I always tell myself, try to do one thing that scares you a day. That was definitely the thing that scared me today. Then I considered how it is that this was so hard for me and mulled over fear and turned it over in my mind. On the flip side, I found trust. There it was. It has been hiding there the whole time. My brain has been trying to unravel fear all these years and all I had to do was hold it closer and not push it away for a moment to see it through a different lens. To see the other side of it, like the two sides of a coin. It has been trust that I have been missing all along. I thought I was just supposed to get over the fear of being upside down. But in this scenario I have yet to trust my body, to be strong and to hold me up as I move myself into this pose. So my challenge to myself, and perhaps my challenge to you, is to consider how trust can help overcome fear, whatever that particular fear might be. Maybe there is fear about getting a new job, starting or ending a relationship or learning something new. Embrace the fear and find the trust within.
I would love for you to share your thoughts below in the comments section, and of course, please share and “like” this post on Facebook. We all like to be liked!
1. What is the fear in your life?
2. How might trust help you overcome that fear?