We All Fall Down #2
I learned how to do a head stand about two weeks ago. I was struggling to get my legs up in class. The next day, practicing on my own, something clicked and I just kicked them up. Alone in the gym I smiled and laughed at myself upside down in the mirror. I kicked back down and then did it about 5 or 6 more times. It was amazing how something that seemed so impossible the day before was suddenly so easy.
A few days later I’m practicing, again on my own, and I decide it’s time to take my heels off the wall. I do it a few times for only a few seconds, each time nervously bringing my feet back to the wall. Frustrated, I told myself firmly it was time to get my feet off the damn wall and hold it. So I did. And then I fell down with a crash.
Fortunately I did not injure my head or neck. But I didn’t exactly fall gracefully and I caused myself a lot of back pain. I had to cancel my classes for the day and lay around with a heating pad. I thought it was kind of funny. Until a few days later when I still had pain and couldn’t comfortably do yoga.
When I told my teacher what happened I thought he would think it was a funny story and tell me to come back next week. He caught me off guard by talking about being conscious in our asanas. He said we are doing more than mastering poses with the body, and the next time I felt like I was losing balance I needed to bring my consciousness inward.
I felt like a school girl being lectured and I was a bit embarrassed. Apparently my funny story wasn’t so hysterical to everyone. But he left me with another good bit of wisdom. He told me it was actually a good thing I fell. Because now I will never fall again.
I am constantly telling my students to honor their bodies, to not push themselves too hard,and to forget about being competitive. I wasn’t taking my own advice. Since my teacher training I have pushed myself really hard. I wanted to see constant progress. And I never worried about injuring myself the way I worried about my students.
Getting injured is a bit of a wake up call. Like someone slapping me in the face saying “Yes! You too can hurt yourself”. I am easing back into my practice with this new awareness. It’s not like no one has ever told me to be careful. I just wasn’t internalizing the message. I get it now.
My friend Jackie used to say “wherever you go, you take yourself with you”. I used yoga like a rope to pull me out of the black hole that was my eating disorder. It’s good to be in the light. But I took some of my unhealthy tendencies with me. Such as the drive for perfection that made me obsess over my weight, and the lack of self respect that allowed me to put my health at risk. Those qualities can be pretty dangerous in the practice of yoga.
So thank you yoga, and thank you headstand for showing me what I need to work on. I need to give the same love and respect I give to my students to myself. And thank you again yoga, for being absolutely the perfect tool to teach myself how.