March has been a big month in the New Beginnings household. In addition to celebrating my daughter's first year, I celebrated a milestone birthday of my own. And as we edged toward these notable occasions, I began to notice yet another similarity between the two of us: a fear of falling.
Despite being just past her first birthday, my daughter is already proving to be strong, focused, and determined. Pulling herself up on furniture and "cruising" from one end of the room to another came early and easily, much to our amusement and the unfortunate demise of the contents of some yet-to-be-childproofed shelves. But when it came to walking - actually putting one foot in front of another to travel to a specific destination - she had no interest. There were perfectly good alternative modes of transportation that did not involve the threat of tumbling headlong onto a wooden floor thankyouverymuch! Any attempts to persuade her otherwise were met with immediate resistance and the defiant thump of a well-padded bottom onto the floor.
The experience got me thinking: where had my own fear of falling - or failing - held me back? In my yoga practice the answer is easy: handstand. Sure, with a wall or an assist, I am happy to put my hands on the floor and throw my feet in the air, but I have never, ever, attempted the pose without an aid. Despite coaching many a student into the pose successfully as an instructor, I have allowed my fear to keep me from exploring it for myself. There are perfectly lovely inversions I can weave into my practice that do not involve a bruised ego or tailbone thankyouverymuch!
Almost as soon as I recognized the parallel, the babe traversed the room from her father to me - and back again - and again. Her efforts have been full of wobbles, stutter-steps, and falls, but we have made a game of the failures, and she pushes on enthusiastically. If a one-year-old can face her fears, so can I: Handstand, we have a date...
As is so often the case, our yoga practice is simply a metaphor for the rest of our lives. We all face challenges on the mat and off that frighten us or take us out of our comfort zones. If we could simply give ourselves permission to fall, we would realize we are stronger and more steady than we think. If you let go of the fear of falling/failing, what might you discover?