It’s been a weekend of forward bending and arm balancing.
Emotionally, forward bends are a form a surrender, a giving up of oneself, a release. Yesterday was devoted entirely to forward bends. My body happens to be particularly well-suited for these postures; I was able to achieve most of the advanced versions and sustain them through the entire count.
I arrived home last night a little sore but emotionally unchanged. I slept fitfully, as usual, and woke up early still blue and extremely self-pitying. As the morning wore on, however, my mood started to shift, veering toward…dare I say?…optimism. Perhaps all that forward bending had steathily begun working its magic.
Midway into the final forward bend series today, something in my body actually did release, sending me reeling giddily as though I were drunk, stoned. At first I thought I was light-headed because I forgot to eat (which I tend to do when I’m either overly excited or overly sad). But the sensation didn’t ebb; it settled deep into my back muscles, resting there.
I felt calm. I felt peaceful. I felt a glow.
Then came the arm balances.
Emotionally, arm balances are all about conquering fear so one day you can fly high and free. Physically and practically, upper body strength is vital.
Emotionally and physically, I’m yin to arm balancing’s yang: I have a lot of fear. My feet are mired firmly on the ground. I have very little upper body strength.
Somehow I struggled through. But my soft upper body prevented me from achieving poses that my flexibility would otherwise allow. I was becoming discouraged, frustrated, even angry at myself for being mushy and weak.
We moved into handstand, a pose I have never attempted.
Under our teacher’s precise instructions, I succeeded in doing a handstand against the wall. But I was the only one in my class who would not try it in the center of the room, even with a spotter. I knew my arms were already turning into wobbly masses of jello and would not support me long enough.
And then there is fear. My classmates are fearless…or else they put on a damn good show. They’ll try anything; they hop up in front of the class and strut their stuff bravely. I’ll confess: the petty part of me thinks some of them are show-offs. But at least they try.
Not me, not in that way. I do try, but it’s different somehow: I’m shaky, insecure, tentative, my fears blatantly naked and exposed to the world. And I don’t know why I’m like this. I don’t know what scares me so and why I’m not suited to faking it till I make it.
But I do know my fears lessen more and more. And I realize that, despite my fears, I almost always soldier on and power through. I look back at who I was…and who I’ve become…and I can visualize the me I will be one day, one moment at a time, one step at a time, one push-up at a time. Heck, I’ve conquered headstand this year. Handstand will come.
So the immediate goal is to work on becoming even stronger, in mind and in body.
And then I will conquer fear.
And then I will fly.