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The Saddle, The Snail and The Freefall

There are two poses I have met in my yoga practice thus far that challenge me to bits: the saddle and the snail.

Granted there are many more poses out there that I have yet to discover, at this point in time, these are the two that push me to my limits. I realize, however, that my difficulty with it goes beyond the physical limitations my body presents, but it really is a mental and emotional impasse I find myself facing every time I attempt these two poses.

When I first attempted the saddle, I got into it.  Not perfectly, mind you, nor gently for that matter, but nonetheless I fell in to it. While bent over backwards, though, all I could think of whas how much I hated it so very, very much. I could barely wait till it was over. It didn’t hurt at all, but yeah, it was quite uncomfortable. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe in fact, because I did keep on forgetting. Repeatedly.

The Snail Pose. Image from http://www.yinyoga.com/

Several sessions later, I met the snail and found another pose to despise. This one I thought I disliked because of the difficulty it presented, what with having to lift your feet all the way up over your head. The first time I saw the snail, I could not even muster up enough courage to try and myself to see my feet come forward towards my head…I was just like asa pa. Haha.

The next time we crossed paths, I tried. Slowly I started seeing my feet come into sight, I began to lift up and got my feet to touch the pillows/props that my teacher had placed for me by my head acknowledging that that would be as far as I can go. Then fear set in and I started wobbling which prompted me to hold my breath, panic, and topple over. Yup, sprawled-on-the-ground-come-crashing-down-why-doncha.

At the end of the practice I let it go and told myself that in time, I would find my way to those poses too.

During my next practice, however, we did a different series which meant meeting up with a whole new set of poses. This time, I found several poses I immediately fell in love with (which I wrote about here :-)) As I was sitting in a box pose (which I absolutely, ABSOLUTELY love), I found myself falling deeper and deeper into myself just enjoying the pose when suddenly my eyes flew open and it hit me why I hated the saddle and the snail: it was the fall to the unknown, the freefall that would get me. The not knowing how far away from floor I am and discomfort of having to just trust that everything would be okay, giving up total control to something more than me.

Like the box, the butterfly, the dragonfly and other poses that bend forward I have grown to love. There’s something about the inward motion, the falling into self, that I find very comforting. I dunno if that’s the right word for it, but it just feels so right. In folding forward, even if it is still a fall, it isn’t so scary because I can see the end or what lies ahead. I can see where I’m going and in a way, I can brace myself for impact.

Backwards, however, takes complete and utter faith. I remember when I tried to inch my way into that snail it was hard for me even if my teacher was right there sitting by me, leaning on me to provide support and saying she had me and to just let go and find that relaxation. Even as she was there telling me to just breathe and that I would not fall, but to just trust that she was there to catch me, I just could not let myself go. And so as I struggled with the pose, tried desperately to hang on to control, I lost it all and found myself toppling over. It’s needing that blind trust in a freefall, whether with myself or with others, and just letting go into the unknown, unseen and unfamiliar that gets to me.

When I was sharing this realization about my yoga poses with a friend, she pointed out that yoga, or movement for that matter, mirrors many facets of our lives. It mimics our hurts, our scars, our joys. Movement, as she put it, is our psyche’s way of being manifested in a physical, tangible manner.

It dawned on me that yes, that’s exactly what the saddle and the snail do for me. It mirrors the difficulties I have in my psyche.  In those poses I just have to trust, which is often very difficult for me. On the other hand, the sweet surrender to the dragonfly, to those safe poses I have loved, is pure joy. And that’s really how I approach life in general. I surrender to the familiar, giving everything I’ve got, just loving the comfort of that knowing. On the other, I tense up, panic and flail when I have to just let go and let gravity (destiny, the universe, whatever it may be) take me where it’s supposed to take me, just trusting that no matter what, it is meant to be.

And so now that I have come to terms with that, I approach my enemy poses with a humbled heart and a desire to befriend. It may not happen immediately, I know, but slowly I’d like to believe we’ll be friends. Maybe frenemies.

Tonight,  the saddle and I, we’re no longer at an impasse. Blind trust and faith, we’re not yet good friends, but we’re getting there. There’s less fear now, even if I still fall and stumble along the way. One step at a time, Ri. One step at a time:)

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check out my other blogs! Fat Girl No More | Daydream Believer | Teacher Ria | OnADietDaw