The other day on The VeganAsana’s post about rising above fear (specifically about the fear of venturing beyond your “comfortable” poses and attempting “hard” ones), I commented that she had inspired me to fly up into forearm balance during my next yoga class. The instructor always leaves the last few minutes of class for “yogi’s choice” inversions, and I typically choose headstand, sometimes handstand (against the wall–I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do unsupported headstand in this lifetime). I used to be able to do forearm balance and scorpion, no problem, years ago, but after I shifted from ashtanga classes to more Kripalu/gentle varieties, the opportunity for such inversions rarely arose.

Physically, I was so ready for the pose. We have been practicing dolphin pose and forearm prep for months now in class, and I can totally feel the difference from Day 1 through now. My shoulders are so much stronger, and every time we go into dolphin, I walk my feet toward my hands, stand on my tippy toes, and feel the entire body engage. It wants to invert. It’s ready. But then every time inversion time comes, I chicken out and float into headstand instead.

After I made the comment on The VeganAsana’s blog, I knew I was committed. Even though VeganAsana nor any of her followers were in my yoga class tonight, I felt like I signed up for the challenge and there was no backing out. Yet right before inversion time, while chilling out in shoulderstand, I kept running excuses through my head. I’m tired. I’m bloated. I’m more hot than usual. My arms are too sweaty.

The thoughts of my blog comment lingered, though, as I pulled my mat up to the wall after fish pose. Hands to elbows. Elbows under shoulders. Hands straight out. Legs in downdog. Walk closer to the hands. Closer. Engage the core! Long exhale….inhale and UP! Up went my left leg, then the right, and in 2 seconds I was in forearm balance. I totally surprised myself and hovered off the wall for a few moments, feeling shockingly stable. I lowered myself back to the mat to let it all sink in and not to overdo it in euphoria. I went up again, this time bending the knees to slowly lower into scorpion. Not anywhere close to touching my feet to my head, but it was a start. 🙂

This past weekend included some metaphorical forearm balances. Actually, probably more like metaphorical downward dogs, because the real-life fears I had were so small compared to other big, scary, real-world fears. Challenging yourself to leave an unfulfilling job is a forearm balance…signing up to pay your credit card bills online is a freakin’ child’s pose.

Yes, for real. I am 30 years old and just signed up to pay my credit card bills online. Up until now, I was doing it the old-fashioned way, with checkbooks and stamps and pens. And then last month, for the first time ever, I was late on a payment. I was devastated. I had had a credit card since I was 17, and I paid my bills in full, on time, year after year. Once my streak was ruined, though, I decided to give the hairy scary Internet a try. I imagined a time-consuming process of entering my life history online, needing to get permission from my bank, perhaps having to mail my credit card company some kind of documentation. Instead, I entered my bank routing number, my checking account number, and BOOM. Insta-pay. I went from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Judy Jetson in 3 minutes, and it felt pretty darn good!

Another big accomplishment of the weekend was learning how to drive into the city. This weekend’s event (learning how to and being comfortable driving into West Philly) is akin to learning shoulderstand, because there are certainly bigger inversions to eventually learn, say, driving to our friend’s place in Tacony (headstand), driving to my sister’s apartment in Northern Liberties (forearm balance), and maybe one day driving into Center City (AHHH, HANDSTAND WITH NO WALL WITH SPIDERS CRAWLING ALL OVER THE FLOOR!!!).

Yes, for real. I am 30 years old, live 15 minutes from the city, and am afraid to drive there. If an event is taking place outside walking distance of any of the Speedline stops, forget it. I have a completely irrational fear of driving in the city, followed closely by an intense resistance to using Septa. But there’s an event coming up this weekend, a movement modality from Europe called Biodanza, taking place at an awesome yoga/dance studio in West Philly. I have wanted to go to this studio forever (weekly 5Rhythms classes!), but The Fear held me back (I’ll just stick to my twice monthly classes in Jersey). But I really, really want to go to this Biodanza class, and it was the perfect “deadline” for me to get my butt over the bridge.

So this past weekend, my husband sat in the passenger seat as I went for a test drive into West Philly. Fortunately, the studio is fairly easy to get to, and there’s no driving through the heart of University City (another headstand!). The parking situation freaked me out a bit; I am still scarred from the last time I tried to parallel park (in Haddonfield, of all places) and totally scraped my car against the very sturdy bumper of an SUV.

My husband has trouble understanding why city driving freaks me out so much, and I explained to him that it’s all GO-GO-GO! I’m from the suburbs; I’m used to being able to pull into someone’s driveway to turn around, turning down a side street without panicking that it’s a one-way, or stopping at a Wawa, a bank, a McDonald’s parking lot if I’m lost and need to regroup. You can’t do that in the city. There’s no stopping, there are no driveways or parking lots, cyclists are inches away from your car, WTF trolleys!?!?!?!, and there is always someone on your ass. To put it in yoga terms, there is absolutely no time for child’s pose while driving in the city. It’s constant vinyasas—chaturanga, updog, downdog, plank, chaturanga, updog, downdog, so on and so forth.

So today marked a real forearm balance, this past weekend marked a metaphorical forearm balance, and this Saturday will be my attempt to do the metaphorical forearm balance off the wall. This is big! Must breathe.

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