During a recent yoga class, a yoga instructor gave me a firm adjustment in Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose). Upon feeling my body fight back in response, she announced, “Oh. We need to be doing more of this, now, don’t we?”
Bridge was already the modification offered for Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose), which most students were moving into with ease.
The irritation from her broadcast of my weakness to a studio full of my peers (Hello, ego!), however, later shifted into gratitude. She forced me to admit something that I probably wouldn’t without tough love: I am a yoga teacher, and yes, I am sometimes afraid.
When Fear Strikes
Since endometriosis surgery, backbends have been challenging. My pelvis tightens, my low back clenches, and my shoulders and chest lock. I am intensely holding on to something, and it isn’t just within my physical body.
After yoga class, I sat on my makeshift meditation pillow, closed my eyes, and began to breathe deeply. Keeping my gaze at my third eye, I let the fear wash over me. It had a lot to contribute, and it wasn’t going to leave until it was finished.
These three guidelines from my fear meditation can be applied to most anything in life, not only to yoga poses. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, take three deep breaths, and try these out for size.
1. Get a Little Cozy With What You Dread
Instead of denying that you are afraid, or leaving at the first appearance of what frightens you, stay with your fear. Ask why it is here, and see what messages it wants to share. Often fear has been trying to get your attention, and you haven’t given it a chance to relay important information.
2. Feel Your Fear and Name It
Do a physical scan of your body and feel what fear feels like in your physique. For me, I felt constriction, holding, tightening, blocking, and stagnation. This described something that went beyond my flesh. By identifying, and labeling it, I was able to get closer to what the fear was trying to tell me.
3. Celebrate Patience
A certain amount of patience is required in order for the body and mind to heal. Lessons are often learned during this precious time. Waiting is a gift. It would not ultimately serve our progression and growth if we figured it all out right away.
Do not force what scares you into immediate answers. Ask, and allow the layers to gradually unfold.
Since that fateful yoga class, I made it my mission to discover the joy in backbends.
I started to make my way into what resembled an Urdhva Dhanurasana shape, and recently attempted three in a row. I honor the places where I still feel a little stuck, and rejoice about where I am no longer bound. I will continue to question my fear and be patient as it gathers results.
When fear shows up in your yoga class or out in the world, smile and invite it inside. Let it stay for the night, the week, or for as long as it needs to. It has your story to share with you.