False Ceilings | iHanuman


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False Ceilings

Six Years ago I attended an Intermediate/Advanced Yoga Workshop taught by John Friend in Utah. We practiced all kinds of challenging and unusual poses, as well as the more typical postures. One day John had me demonstrate Adho Mukha Vrksasana, the Handstand Pose. I love this pose and have practiced it for years. However, he had me demonstrate in the middle of the room. He caught my legs as I kicked up and helped me find my balance and maintain it for about a minute in the middle of the room.
What is fascinating to me is that I had never considered the idea that I could balance in the middle of the room-even though Handstand is one of my favorite poses, even though I had been practicing it for years against the wall. I'd seen other people balance in the middle of the room, mostly the men, but it never dawned on me that I was capable of it also. I had all kinds of reasons-mainly fear. With no wall to support me, I had a fear of falling over and hurting myself.
After John demonstrated to me that I could do it, I began to practice it at home, exploring how to do it safely and how to appropriately manage my fear of falling. I started out at the wall and gradually moved farther away. After awhile I could kick up to Handstand about 24 inches from the wall and balance without ever touching it. Later I ventured out into the middle of the room, having someone spot me. Then I tried it in the yard (for a softer landing). And then on a few courageous occasions, after I was well warmed up (so if I fell I could land in Urdhva Dhanurasana, a back bend pose, and not hurt myself), I tried it in the middle of the room. Finally I could do this pose! I was truly amazed!! For decades I've been working on Handstand and four months after John opened my mind to a greater possibility, I learned, at age 52, to do Handstand in the middle of the room-by myself!
What this demonstrates to me is that it's not about physical skills; it about mental skills. It's about what we believe that we are capable of. I never conceived of doing the pose in the middle of the room so I never tried. I had unknowingly created a false ceiling for myself. The physical possibility did not exist because the mental concept was not in my field of vision.
One of the most intriguing things to me about yoga is how it can be a metaphor for life. When we overcome some of limited concept of ourselves in yoga class, we take that new awareness into our daily lives. We begin to explore new activities, ope to fresh, new experiences, and try things that we may previously have been afraid to do. This process makes life an adventure, and keeps us supple, physically, mentally. It keeps us growing, and developing, keeps our hearts young, and our spirit vital.
It makes me wonder what other opportunities are available in life that we miss because they are not in our field of vision- we just don't see them or act on them. What experience is out there just waiting for you to discover it? What will you look back on in your life and wish you had tried? I remember reading a research article that found the most common regret among older people was not having taken more risks during their lives. What regrets will you have? What risk, what road, will you wish you would have taken?

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