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Balance and the Fear of Falling

In big balance poses, the more I resist falling out, the more I wobble. The more I think about balancing, the harder it gets to do. The wobbles stop for me only when I stop expecting failure. The best trick is not caring whether or not you fall out. Not judging yourself based on whether your tree pose foot is at your ankle or your thigh. Knowing the use of a block in half moon doesn’t lessen your practice. When you ditch wanting it to be a certain specific (i.e. arbitrary) way, you let it be instead what it actually is for you. It’s not passivity or complacency. It’s opening yourself up to more possibilities of what poses can feel like, and remembering there is far deeper work going on than making a shape with your body.

I’ve been doing a lot of that lately – the fear of falling. So I keep dragging myself back to my mat to look at it another way. How can I balance without falling to pieces? How can I bend and not break? How can I be okay with being uncomfortable?

There’s a beautiful moment in a balance pose when you activate dynamic tension – dynamic tension is when we use one side of your body to press against the other, creating stability. Think in Tree pose – your hands at heart center pressing strong against each other to stay steady. Or in Eagle, how everything wraps nice and strong around its opposite side counterparts to stay strong and steady.

Dynamic tension in poses reminds me that we already have what we need in ourselves. Sometimes we have this moment of thinking “I’m not enough” or “I can’t do it alone.”  Your right hand doesn’t need to hold the wall when it has its left hand waiting to help.  If the left leg starts to shake, let your right leg be what supports it. 

Now let me say also – there is always a good reason to take a break and step down or touch the wall. And there is always a point where engagement can cross into overexertion. And that’s not yoga, and it’s not safe. But in yoga, we develop this ear that can understand and translate the feelings in our body. Some feelings are clear cues to come out – and we mostly intuitively know what those are.

Some sensations, though, when we really look at them, are more uncomfortable mentally than they are physically. That’s when the urge to come out, to stop comes up. When we no longer allow the surrender needed. And that’s when we can look at our pose and say “Hmm, I can do it alone.” 

If you were wondering how the transferable skills of yoga show up – for me, it’s moments like this <3


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