Yoga is a great practice for unearthing feelings and habits we’ve buried. I think that’s why some people cry during hip opening poses — not from pain, but from a rush of emotions. Or why in difficult poses, we can fall into old habits of saying bad words to ourselves or finding someone place blame or frustration, like the yoga teacher or that hot yogi next to us.
I can go months without such revelations, which makes each new one all the more surprising. Recently, I’ve noticed how much my fear of failure is second only to my fear of my own success. I’ll explain.
I’ve been working on handstands, leap frogs, and other inversions which bring my hips directly over my shoulders. It’s terrifying for me! At first, I thought this feeling stemmed from a fear of falling over and hurting myself. After that, I thought it was a more generalized fear of “failing” to execute the pose. Then, I’d catch these glimpses of myself. I would be in the pose,bring my hips high or enter a headstand, and hear two thoughts flash across my mind. First: “I’m doing it!” Immediately afterward, I’d feel panicky and think, “Oh no! I’m doing it!” When I become aware of these thoughts, it’s over. I fall out of the pose and the next attempt becomes shadowed by the possibility of the same realization.
This has caused me to wonder about my life off the mat. What decisions do I make to inoculate myself from flourishing? And, for goodness’ sakes, why in the world would flourishing terrify me?
I’d love for this to be a post in which I impart wisdom about how I figured this all out and learned to soar spectacularly. But I haven’t figured it out. I’m still working through my physical practice and attempting to return to the meditation practice I mostly abandoned in the spring.
But my hope is that this post allows you to take note of those little voices in your practice, and to not let them ripple through you unnoticed. Take their existence as an opportunity to explore and go deeper. I’m trying to do that now. For me, it’s the only way forward.