Monday, July 27, 2009
Elephant In Bakasana
As a teacher, I try to remember the first time when I got myself into certain challenging poses like crane, firefly, scorpion or headstand. A lot of the times, when attempting arm balancing for the first time, it can be really intimidating and scary. I use to have this fear of 'flying'. Flying in aeroplanes scares the crap out of me and the thought of standing on 'looking glass floors' in tall buildings would just make my legs turn into jello. I admit I still don't like cable cars but somehow I am much better at 'take offs' in planes than before.
The first time I did crane pose, I felt 'heavy' and thought my butt was far too big for a 'take off'. I've got the smallest wrist ever, and that didn't help in my practice with arm balances... used to think I was going to break my wrists at some point.
I began sticking pictures of models doing crane on the balcony walls. I also stuck a picture of the elephant in the picture you see above too!! ( No idea if it was a real picture but I was determined). They were going to be my motivation to achieve crane.
It was a total of 50 falls ( 20 close calls on face and 10 landings on my bottom) before I took off. Even then my feet reached only 2 inches away from the floor but it was a feeling of achievement and overcoming the fear of falling when I finally got into the pose. I could have save myself 5 falls short if I shifted my weight forward a little more and lifted my head a tiny bit. But I was petrified of lifting my weight off the floor into my hands. After all, it has only been my feet carrying my weight the whole life time.
But I soon realised that my poses became lighter the more I 'breathed', engaged uddiyana bandha (abdominal lock) and released my fear of falling. I reminded myself each time 'falling' is just part of everything else I do in this lifetime. Of course, I piled some cushions around my mat just to build my confidence a wee bit. Cushions are like friends, they're soft inside, there to support and catch you when you fall....
(So p.s if you do intend to practice at home, get some nice cushy pillows around you)
(Unless you want to end up with a few front teeth missing.....)
It's been progression rather than instant miracles that helped me into the arm balancing poses. There wasn't a quick remedy or recipe to crane or firefly, just willpower and mindful practice.
Some poses do require a little more flexibility around the chest and shoulders, perhaps more arm strength too. In scorpion pose, it takes a while to feel comfortable enough to lift at the face to look in between the forearms. Being aware of your breaths is also a key point to remember in this challenging pose. I remember holding my breath when staying in scorpion pose only realising later my retention of breaths sent me straight back down to mother earth. So, remember guys, as always, bring awareness into the breaths again and find ease rather than bringing tension into the pose even when you're practising arm balancing. It doesn't take a genius to tell you that if your mind is elsewhere and you're doing pincha mayurasana, you're just gonna 'timber' yourself down to the floor.
Be in that moment, find where your 'center of gravity' is when you've your legs up in the air, let go of fear and most importantly, keep up with your practice....visualise yourself in the full pose and you will get there.