Sometimes we get comfortable doing certain things because guaranteed success is safe. It may be running the same 3 mile loop, cooking the same “signature dish”, practicing or even teaching the same few favorite sequences. But there is no growth in comfort. Growth comes from a unsteady voice, flushed cheeks, shaking muscles, and lots and lots of uncertainty.
For me, there have always been growing pains associated with inversions and arm balances. There is something inherently terrifying about having your face awfully close to the mat as the rest of your weight is pitched over it, being supported by trembling wrists and arms. “What if I fall?” But my answer to that is always “What if I fly?” despite having fallen my fair share. And as much as I love the freedom of flying, I love sharing it with others.
Most recently I had the privilege of teaching arm balance workshops at two wonderful studios in Yerevan, Armenia. And as excited as I was to share something that I love with new groups of students, there was also quite a bit of trepidation. What if the cues did not translate? What if the practice that I taught was not what they were were used to? What if the language barrier was too big of a hurdle to overcome? There were a lot of jitters as I watched the students unroll their mats.
When I asked who had never done an arm balance and was afraid, many hands went up. Realizing that everyone in the room was facing different fears made teaching easier. We were all in this together! And as we set an intention of trusting the process, I let my love of the practice guide my words. There was labored breathing, there were shaky muscles, and even a few baby crows and pigeons taking flight by the end of the two hours. We had all gone out on a limb and come out on the other side of a breakthrough.
It turned out that it was ok to be afraid.