Fear and Faith

October 2, 2011 § 4 Comments

Apologies for sorta falling off the face of the blogosphere recently. September was a crazy month filled with travel and projects that didn’t leave me a lot of time to just indulge with typing words on a blank screen. Plus, I was a little turned off by the blogstorm about Ms K-i-n-o and all the mud-slinging that went on. I wanted to write my view on the issue but then thought better of it, as I didn’t have anything new to say.

I spent the last week in NYC, visiting a friend from home who’s posted there for a couple of months. First time in the city and I was all steeled up and ready for heavy thunderstorms only to be greeted with – sunshine. And humidity. Oh god, the humidity! Four years in Northern California has clearly rendered me incapable of dealing with temperatures higher than 80F (24C) and humidity, much more when you’re on the bottom-most platform of the New York subway and decked out in woollen socks and rainboots for the thunderstorms that never came.

I had grand plans to practice at AYNY, which, according to Google Maps was just a 30 minute walk+subway ride away, but the 3 hour jetlag put all 6am wake-up calls to mush. I ended up practicing in my friend’s apartment (thank god for hardwood floors) which, as they say, is better than nothing. It was tough though as just one plane ride is enough to tense up my muscles such that the first practice was eerily reminiscent of the first post-LH practice.

Before I left for New York, I practiced with the third of the three Mysore teachers at our studio. She adjusted me in downward dog and suggested I relax my shoulders while keeping the arms activated, which, she said, would facilitate the transfer of weight when I jumped forward, similar to what happens in a handstand. This was a simple piece of advice but it was a new toy to play with – it made me focus on the arms when jumping forward and through and the ‘handstand’ analogy got me thinking about lifting my hips higher, which – as we all know – is one of the keys to a smooth jumpthrough. Since that practice, my jumpthroughs have been a playground (never thought I’d say that!) as I constantly remind myself to lift the hips higher. I’ll be honest that there’s an ounce of fear whenever I inhale from downward dog for the jumpthrough, which has its roots in overanalyzing and visions of ugly landings. Completely irrational I know, but this is the mental edge right there, one that the vinyasa system conveniently forces me to confront, again and again.

The other mental edge I’m currently dealing with is in throwing my arms back in the drop back. Oh good god, this is a whole other level altogether. Our regular teacher, B, has got me using a stack of five styrofoam boards glued together, placed under the mat and against the wall. This raises the ‘floor’ and gives me less to ‘drop’. I’m perfectly fine walking my hands down my hips and thighs, but when it comes to the tipping point, to shoot my arms back and drop – I can’t do it. Tried it three times today on my own, and I just froze in fear. Again, paralyzed by visions of falling flat on my face. It would seem that the key to a successful dropback for me is to get a lobotomy.

There really is nothing else I can do to overcome this except to keep trying really. The edge I’m facing in the dropbacks is exactly the same one I faced while learning the headstand, a sensation that I’m standing at the edge of some sort of mental precipice, unable to take the next step, frozen partly out of fear and a lack of muscle memory. Considering that I finally bit the bullet and did a headstand on the mat in the middle of the room today, there is hope that this dropback fear will be just another checked item on my Ashtanga journey one day. I just need to have the faith that it will happen.

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§ 4 Responses to Fear and Faith

  • “I’m currently dealing with is in throwing my arms back in the drop back.”-my main backbend teacher (dena kingsberg) teaches drop-backs completely different than what you speak of. i lengthen my arms up & reach slowly back, moving hips forward & then drop down by reaching for the floor. works awesome. she’s a hell of a backbending teacher. this keeps your thorasic spine open & you are less likely to hinge in the sacrum & far less scary, more elegant.

    • D says:

      Thanks Bindi! I’ve started leaning back with hands at my heart’s center, which still requires throwing the arms back, but this way I’m constantly reminded to keep my chest open. Did you feel unstable when you started doing it this way? I’m not sure if my legs and core are grounded enough to balance the weight distribution of the arms and upper back dropping back…I guess there’s only one way to find out.

  • Just reach high up then behind as far as possible. Balance hips forward, keep arms straight, reach for the floor. I would try at a wall first. Once u get used 2 the action, u will luv it. Keep me posted.

  • Bibi says:

    Hey, good to have you back again! 🙂

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