I had coffee with a dear friend this week. We talked a bit about her Stuff. She’s facing some pretty hefty demons right now, ones that she’s been living with for too long. She’s got a bit of separation anxiety at the thought of letting them go. But it’s time. She’s decided it’s time. Around this, she still found the space to ask after my teaching. Last time we met I’d been all nervous, just about to start teaching in my workplace. Now I’ve been going a month and I’m much more confident. I know I can do this. Sometimes clumsy, sometimes a little inarticulate, but I feel curiously much more at ease in this place than I ever expected. I surprise myself!
Confidence and feeling steady in myself is an unusual feeling. It’s a good place to be, a place where the possibilities lay themselves out before me, appearing within reach. I just need to stretch a bit! During the week I find myself smiling as I think of my class, my students. I walk to the office reflecting on the poses we’re working on — how to describe them better, how to set up the sequence with more physical attunement, what simple gesture might help the student who looks most ill at ease, or how to challenge the stronger ones without turning simple practice into a competition?
And in my own practice, I’m exploring this feeling of new confidence. I’m exploiting it a little, being a little bolder in the expectations I have of my body; I’m being quietly daring. I’m starting to feel proud of myself, proud of my body’s increased vitality and strength and the patient progress made to come to this place now.
And after pride comes the fall. We all know that, right?
In class last week I fell out of handstand. It could have been worse, it could have been much worse. But it shook me up completely. I simply lost concentration, I didn’t take enough care with my set-up and one shoulder gave way. It was a packed class, a noisy environment, a teacher busy getting round those who asked for help. I thought I knew enough to work here. But I was tired and allowed myself to give up my one-pointed focus. Perhaps it’s another yoga first for me: being over-confident in my asana practice! 🙂
I slunk out of class aftwards to lick my wounds in private. I wasn’t sure what I’d done, what the discomfort signalled. I didn’t want an interrogation from my teacher. I’d heard him cautioning two newcomers before class telling them to look after themselves and take good care since this was the advanced class: “there are no injuries in my class”. I felt obscurely as though I’d let him down.
But after a miserable evening numbing my rather shaken nerves with some whiskey and my shoulder with an ice pack I’ve reflected a little more soberly on this incident and what I might learn. I know I find noise very difficult when I’m tired and I need to take care to monitor my fatigue during practice — a bit like the stock market, energy levels can go down as well as up, so I need to adjust accordingly in a busy class as much as I do at home when it’s just me. But also I realise it’s kind of funny to hurt myself falling out of a handstand. It was only five minutes ago it seems that the idea of being upside down at all was an impossibility. So I’m kind of impressed with how much scope there is in my practice, how much lift and energy and strength. It’s more than I ever dreamed. It’s just that in that particular moment it was less than I required!
Live and learn.