Fear or Flight

“Do one thing that scares you everyday.”  Eleanor Roosevelt.

I rush into class hoping there are still spots left in the back where I can hide, spread out my mat, and lay down.  I’m enjoying a few sacred moments of pre-class savasana, when Jake, my previously mentioned yoga instructor/secret therapist walks into class and says, “Today, we are going to spend the entire class working on handstands.”

F#ck, sh#t, panic, this is not what I came for; are my immediate thoughts.

“What was your immediate reaction to my statement?” Jake asks.  “Was is excitement, or was it fear?”

Wait, is Jake actually in my brain right now?

“If it was fear, then remember that every time there is fear, there is a chance to be brave.”

Yet again proving that Jake is better than therapy, and if you think that paying $20 for an hour group yoga class is too much, it is much cheaper than whatever an equivalent therapy session in lala-land costs.

“What I like about handstands, is that even once you get into the pose, you are forced to remain present the entire time,”  Jake explains.  The music starts; class begins.  And with that, I have to remind myself to not have dread, recruit all my seven chakras to being open, and see what I can gain from this handstand based class.

As we’re going through class, we flow through all the components of preparing for a handstand, and of course I’m making the parallels between this experience and running and life in general.  What scares me about doing a handstand?  It’s the lack of control I feel when I’m upside down.  Why am I afraid of having made the commitment to running a full-marathon, because what if now that I’ve told everyone I’m going to do it, I don’t finish and just drop out.  I can’t control whether or not I get injured during the process.  Why am I afraid to write a blog, because I’ve committed (to myself and no one else) to posting once a week, and what if I run out of topics after 6 months and it’s too time consuming and I just stop.

What am I really afraid of?  Who does the perfectionist in me think that she is going to disappoint?  And isn’t what drives me most crazy about my middle child that he is a perfectionist and afraid to fail?  Do I want my child to suffer from being a perfectionist?  If I don’t, then shouldn’t I set an example by not being one myself?  Why am I afraid to fail?

And is it really failing if you start something and you don’t see it all the way through?

Back to handstands, and Jake is reviewing the process of handstand preparation.  Positioning your hands correctly, bringing your legs as close to your hands so you are on your tippy toes, doing cat pose and pulling your abdominals in, looking forward between your hands, and now lifting just one leg into the air.

“Keep practicing that, ” Jake reassures.  “If that is where you are at, it is fine because there is no finish line.  Not everyone has to get their other leg up in the air.  When you are ready, your other leg will automatically take flight.”

There is no finish line, and it’s all a process and preparation anyway.  Like when I run, I practice hills and sprints to improve my speed.  I do long runs to work on my endurance.  I cross train and do yoga to stretch and balance out my other muscles so that I can continue to run.  All of this may someday lead to a completed marathon or not.  If I prepare and put in the work, which I am doing, then I am on the path to automatically take flight into that marathon.

If I read, run, think, and be open, then more blog topics will just come.  (That, or I could record Jake’s class each time and transcribe it.  That could be a motivational blog right there, but it does seem a little like cheating.  My inner nerd has never cheated on a test.)

By the end of class, my other leg does not take flight.  I don’t get into a full handstand, but my body and my mind have still gotten a full work-out.  Not completing something does not negate the work before it….energy was not wasted but created.

If I drop out of the race at mile 22, it will not negate the work and miles before it.  If I stop blogging in a couple of months, the process and the posts that I have already put out there will not lose their value.  Even ultra-marathoner Dean Karnazes agrees with Jake that, “there are no finish lines; Runs end, running doesn’t.”

What I like about Jake’s class is that much like a long run, it forces me to be vulnerable giving 100% of myself…. it is a power yoga class for the mind and body…..mentally and physically exhausting me so I’m pleading for child’s pose….It leaves me drained, yet rejuvenated.

*This post was initially published on 4/7/15.

Paria Hassouri