I don't have a amiable history with inversions. It took me 10 years to learn headstand, 10 years!!! During the first five years of my yoga practice, I simply refused to do it! And handstand still scares the daylights out of me, even at the wall (away from the wall, it *really* freaks me out; I had a mini-meltdown in the Darby's workshop last October when Joanne insisted that I do it).
When I started Intermediate Series last summer, Pincha loomed menacingly on my horizon but still seemed far away. When I split Primary last month, it went from being a 'someday thing' to a 'any time now thing'. The thought of doing the pose in the middle of the room was terrifying.
So I started working on it at home, at the wall, trying to immune myself to The Fear. A few weeks ago, I started doing it at the shala - adding it with the handstands I scare myself with every day before Bakasana. I'm glad I brought it to DT's attention because I really needed help with alignment.
Last week, DT officially added Pincha to my practice. I wasn't expecting it, in fact, I was resting in child's pose that day because Tittibhasana had wrung me out and I was feeling sluggish. When DT stepped to the front of my mat and said "Pincha Mayurasana! Let's go!", I was kind of in shock.
I did the pose, but I was a basket case. My arms were sliding all over the place, I was fuzzy-brained and my body felt like a wet noodle waving around in space. I spent the rest of that week in a tizzy. I couldn't stop thinking about how afraid I was. DT was spotting me every day, but I knew there was an expiration on that kind of help.
So, mid-week I took Pincha to the park. In the same soft grass I learned to drop back on, I came into Pincha Mayurasana, then I fell. Over and over again, I fell out of the pose. I fell until falling didn't make me weak with fear, until my brain realised I wasn't going to DIE. I even mastered the whole 'drop-n-roll' thing and started to feel little less anxious.
On Sunday, I set up in the middle of my mat and came into the pose without a spot. Of course, I fell. DT looked up and shrugged. "It happens." I tried again, and I fell. Pincha, flip, *whomp* Repeat as necessary! The third time, I was physically shaking but I gave it another go. I hovered for a nanosecond, then I fell again. *Whomp*
DT came over to assist. She had me come up a second time and told me to lotus my legs and lower them. Karandavasana! I faceplanted. *groan* I tried again. I faceplanted but she helped me lift back up. Then I collapsed into anxious heap on my mat. I'm under no illusion that I've been 'given' Karandavasana. What I've been given is a memo telling me that I'm far, far away from being strong enough to do that pose! Holy smokes, that was HARD.
DT is interested in two things: alignment and long holds to build strength. So I'm working at the wall every day, holding the balance for as long as I can (it's not very long). I try to take Pincha away from the wall at least once during every practice. Today, I *whomped*, but I also had one magic moment when I hovered perfectly in balance and came back down.
It's interesting how this new pose adds a completely different flavour to my practice. I used to dread Tittibhasana. Now I drag my heels through Tittibhasana because I'm dreading what comes next. My nervous system has been absolutely *fried*. I've had some trouble with insomnia and I've been sleeping fitfully.
But here's what really boggles my mind: I'm going to get up tomorrow morning and do it again. And the next day too! I'm not brave - where is this coming from? Is it my stubborn steak? Is it faith? I think this stuff may be making me stronger in places far deeper than muscle. I think I'm learning to say 'no' to the part of my brain that says "I can't".
And that's scaring me a little bit too.
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