While laying on Florida’s Bicentennial Beach on the first Saturday in months where I’ve had literally nothing I had to do, I got an insatiable urge to move. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was writing out yoga sequences–something I love to do but rarely set aside the time for–or perhaps it was simply the setting. The beach definitely brings out my playful side. Somewhere between the memories it evokes from growing up a half mile from the ocean and the sound of kids giggling as they danced in and out of the waves not far from my towel, I got caught up in the fancy-free energy and had to play.
What better way for a yogi to play than by practicing yoga drop backs?
I hadn’t done a yoga drop back since the summer, before I injured my hamstrings and before my life became beautifully more complicated with the new adventure I’m on. At the time, what had always held me back from attempting this deep back bend was all fear–the fear of falling and getting hurt.
What good did that do me? How could I ever grow if I was too afraid to push my boundaries?
I’ve always been good at challenging myself mentally (e.g. in school and at work), stretching myself emotionally (like living abroad in different cultures and falling in love a time or two), but physically, well physical challenges have always stopped me in my tracks. For some reason, the the possibility of physical defeat has always been most daunting to my otherwise risk-embracing psyche.
Yoga has been a huge part of my openness to attempting new physical challenges–like training for my first half marathon–and to not only accepting but embracing this so-called “defeat.” Through falling (as I’ve now done countless times in crane, handstand, forearm stand and almost every balancing pose) I’ve learned my edges. It also shows me where my work is. That’s the fun of falling because you get to keep working to push that impermanent line of limitation farther and farther back. It takes dedicated effort and a lot of self-forgiveness to keep at it, but it is well worth it when you reach a new level and feel that ineffable sense of accomplishment.
On that sunny, carefree Saturday, as I sprang from my towel and without hesitation leaned back falling blindly to my hands, they were met with the receptive give of warm, soft sand. In that moment, I realized that I’m neither now nor ever that far from where I was the first time I faced this frightening transition from firmly grounded upright on two solid feet to topsy-turvy, upside-down. I still have the same healthy amount of fear critical to the resulting rush of achievement. I’ll always be scared of the fall. More important than having that fear though is not being paralyzed by it. By pushing through and just doing it–falling, failing, whatever it is that scares you–you realize just how capable you are and ultimately you’ll want to do it again and again, and again.
The ability to fall, be defeated or however else you personally define facing an uncertain outcome becomes a positive and transformational experience through repetition, perseverance and the joyful embrace of all that is possible.