Poet in Residence
Bodies and Voices: The Beauty of Gravity
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST CARYN MIRRIAM-GOLDBERG
Today I hung upside down — a bat in a line of other bats. It was my first time doing this pose, which is simply a handstand without hands and with ropes so that I ended up with my upside-down legs in a diamond shape, supported by the ropes so that my torso could hang free. Still, I was thrilled.
I was also terrified.
Having only done this about half a dozen times, I entered into the pose each time utterly excited and quickly tipped myself through the long line of utter fear and triumph and more fear that comes to me.
Breathe, breathe, breathe.
The first time I did this pose, under the guidance of one of my yoga teachers, Anne Underwood, I was especially enveloped in waves of panic. What if I fell and broke my neck? What if the ropes didn’t hold?
What if I just freaked out in front of everybody?
This is what went through my little mind as Anne helped me place the ropes at just the right curve where my butt meets my back, and then walk my trembling legs up the wall until I could simply lie down and let the ropes hold me.
As usual, I countered the fear by telling myself, “Breathe, breathe, breathe.” Each asana, each breath, is a continual way to come home to my body, and to re-program how I inhabit my own body.
Often it’s just the old struggle: how to try my hardest without putting so much effort into trying that I make the pose hard.
Hanging in the bat cave, however, I hold myself letting go in a new way, and not just because I was suspended upside down. I could surrender to the support of the wall, ropes, Anne close enough by to help me if I freaked out, the strength of my body, and the beauty of gravity.
Ever since that first time, I long to climb myself upside down again, to take myself into the bigger and more open space of seeing the world, inhabiting the world, from a totally different perspective, one that lands me so much in the perfect cave of the moment.
When I get the chance, I rush toward the ropes, resisting the impulse to hum the theme from Batman, so that I can hang with the other bats, knowing that at the same time I surrender, I also fly.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.