In January, 2015, I decided that by the end of the year I wanted to be able to do a forearm stand. I honestly had no idea if that was possible, but I knew I was ready to try like hell.
So I did. I unrolled my mat against my closet door and started kicking up.
Ohhhhhh I was so far from feeling anything close to control. I knew I had a long road ahead, but I was willing to put in the work. I just wanted to know what it felt like. I was genuinely curious. And... it just looked like fun.
I practiced forearm stand against a wall for an entire year. I built a lot of strength, and could kick up and hold it... but I always had that wall of security right behind me.
I was terrified of leaving that wall.
Ok, so it's December 2015. I was practicing on my own in New Delhi, India in my hotel room. I looked around, noticed there was no good wall to kick up against. So out of the absolute abyss, terrified me said, hell with it, let's try this bad boy smack dab in the middle of the room.
So I did.
And I fell.
And holy lord almighty, falling was a MASSIVE breakthrough for me.
Because I fell... and I was ok.
I just landed in a backbend (lucky for me... I have a very flexible back). Nothing terrible happened. It wasn't bad at all! In the instant of hang time before my feet landed I may have almost peed my pants, but I didn't... and then I landed, and then BAM POW, I was fine! I was just back on the ground!
Well ok then.
For so long, I had been afraid to leave the wall because I was so horribly scared of FALLING.
Forearm stand showed me that I am capable of facing my fears. It taught me that maybe the thing I'm fearing isn't so bad after all... in fact maybe I've made the thing into a much bigger deal in my head than it actually is.
Forearm stand taught me that I could take fear by the horns and start bossing it around, instead of vice versa.
It taught me that it's ok to fall. It's ok to fall on the mat, and it's ok to fall off the mat. Moreover... it taught me that falling can be empowering. Falling doesn't mean you failed... it means you tried. It means you're on your way.
And then I started thinking, what else could I do if I just wasn't afraid to fall? If I wasn't afraid to fail?
Yeah. Think about THAT. I now see fear through an entirely new lens than I did before. I now see fear as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery.
Ok so what else did it teach me?
Forearm stand was the first pose that I committed to practicing every single day... for an entire year. I realized that's what it would take in order for me to get it. So I made a vow and committed myself to at least do three attempts every day. Forearm stand taught me dedication. It taught me that if I worked hard enough... I could do anything I set my mind to.
Forearm stand also brought up else something pretty deep for me. It brought up my fear of people judging me.
So after a month or so of practicing against my wall at home, I started to realize that to stick to my daily promise, I needed to practice it in the morning, instead of at night, when my body (and mind) was so exhausted after the long day. And I realized that in order for that to happen, I needed to do it as soon as I got to GoYoga for my morning 6am practice.
So then I had to face the fear of two things:
1. That people would judge me for not being able to do it, and; 2. That people would judge me for showing off.
Ha, I know, these things sound like complete opposites! And they are! The common thread: I was so concerned with people judging me. Period.
But it was in that moment, when I reminded myself that my practice was just that: mine.
This wasn't about anybody else. I wasn't doing this to show off. And who cared if people saw me falling and flying against the wall with little grace. It was my practice. It had nothing to do with them, nothing at all.
That was huge. That helped me in so many areas of my life. For so long I've been so concerned with what people think of me. And why? For what good? You can be the "best person ever" and people will still misunderstand you and still judge you anyways. And guess what? That has everything to do with THEM, and nothing to do with YOU.
That realization lead to another deep lesson thanks to my friend forearm stand. It taught me to notice when I start judging other people. If I don't like someone, if somebody rubs me the wrong way... I now start inquiring what it is about ME that is maybe making me feel this way. I realize that it probably isn't really about the other person. So, I take the focus off of that person, and instead put it back on myself and do some reflecting. That can be very, super, insanely challenging... especially when you really just want to take the low road and not like a person, haha, but it's been such a powerful practice in my life. I try to see the whole picture. This continually pushes me to be honest with who I am, what I am feeling, why... and in turn to be compassionate and empathetic towards both myself and the other person.
Dedication. Power. Strength. Courage. Honesty. Authenticity. Self-reflection. Self-improvement. Compassion. Empathy.
These are just a few words to sum up a few of the lessons that this posture taught me.
My hope is that through these posts, you'll start to get a real grasp for what I mean, and for what other yogis mean, when we say that yoga is not about the physical postures.
I mean that statement is vague, right? So I hope this posts helps you understand a little bit of what we mean.
Everyone experiences yoga in their own, unique way. Every posture, every practice, every mediation teaches people different things. This is just me sharing my own journey. What yoga has taught me.
So I end saying: cheers to you, forearm stand. Like, hot damn. You've taught me so much.
Thanks for that.