I am enrolled in a yoga teachers training. I am at the point in my own exploration of yoga postures where, to make significant progress in my poses, I must make peace with the possibility of smashing my face to the ground. Actually, this is not a possibility, but a reality.
I am working on Bakasana (Crow Pose), Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow), Tittibhasana (Firefly), Astavakrasana (Eight Angle) and Eka Hasta Bhujasana (Elephant’s Trunk). I have zeroed in on a misguided core belief that I am in-process with releasing. I had believed, in the past, that I was not strong enough to do arm balances or inversions. That as a woman, with my tall body and shape, I would never be able to accomplish the upper body strength and balance needed. With the support of my yoga mentors, I am building my strength and confidence through practice repetition and playfulness.
Recently, I was minding my own business during a mixed-level yoga class, playing with the shift of balance and weight on my upper body, going into Side Crow. (Picture me, arms in plank position to the side, resting my hips and both legs onto the shelf of my triceps.) Suddenly, I became the center of attention as my yoga trainer stopped her verbal cues to turn and watch me. The entire class turned to see where her attention had gone.
I promptly tilted forward—too much—and dove into the floor, face first. Elegantly at least, I hope!
With that as my initial greeting to the class, she proudly introduced me to the entire class as an up-and-coming new teacher. I thought of all the “elevator” speeches I had prepared over the years to introduce myself to new groups. The succinct wording practiced to convey the perfect persona of who I was at that moment in my professional career.
And so, there I was…face on the floor. What a first impression! But what to do?? I had the other side to complete and now all eyes were on me!
I go the second side, feel my arms, make my shelf, play with the fulcrum on my lower body and gently tap off with my toes. I lower my chest and head down to find the balance…and poof, I am smashed into the mat again, face first.
By allowing myself to be seen in my imperfection, I reflected back to the class the importance of taking a risk while learning.
Of being willing to fall and smash my face, in public, with an audience.
The class laughed, but in the warmest, sweetest, connecting way. They were proud of me for continuing to practice the pose, for being so vulnerable in front of them, allowing myself to be seen in my imperfection, in process, a learner. The class actually clapped and celebrated my willingness to fall in my attempts at mastering the pose.
Are you willing to risk looking foolish to accomplish your goals?
Are there skills that you want to learn so badly that you are willing to “fail” over and over again in the mastering of them?
We just had an entire training day devoted to learning how to teach the asanas of arm balances. A lovely man in our training class had sided up next to me to give me minute instruction on getting into Crow. He placed the most nurturing of gifts in front of my head…a pillow!