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A bird sitting in a tree is not afraid of the branch breaking because her trust is not in the branch, but in her own wings.


After years of contemplation, I am finally doing yoga teacher training. It’s training in hot Vinyasa, which I’ve been integrating into my Bikram practice for a while now.

While the training is really wonderful — it’s really freaking me out. That’s also how I know it’s good.

We did assisted drop backs the other day. A drop back is where you stand there and backbend so far that your hands hit the ground and you end up in wheel pose. It looks like this:

via Yoga Journal

via Yoga Journal

It sucks.

It sucks not just because it’s physically hard, it sucks because it’s mentally hard. Really hard. As evidenced by the fact that I kinda had a panic attack and cried when faced with the prospect of doing it.

Now, I’m not one of those people who can cry with any subtlety. If I’m crying, everyone within a half-mile radius knows it. I am without a poker face.

So, I was in class, standing there and crying, with my teacher supporting my hips. I began to bend backwards and my monkey mind took over. And it totally trashed the joint.

All my trust issues and all my fears cozied up to me on that yoga mat. Every person who had ever let me fall came into exquisitely painful focus. I thought of everyone who I expected to be there, everyone I thought could hold me up when I most needed it, everyone who turned away when I needed support.

I remembered every time I felt like I was in free-fall, failing around, disoriented and not sure when I would hit the ground, but knowing that the crash landing would destroy every part of me. I thought of when my back was broken, when my heart was broken, when my soul was broken.

And I froze and cried some more.

I could not do this.

And then, Kelly, my teacher, did what all gifted yoga teachers do. She said the thing that I had no idea that I needed to hear.

“It’s all about trust. And it’s not about trusting me. It’s about trusting you.”

I took a breath. And then I did a drop back.

I decided to trust myself. Which is not easy, since there have been moments when even I didn’t hold myself up in the way that I most needed. But I decided to forgive myself for those past blunders, and trust that in this moment, I was going to support myself fully. I was going to be my own best ally and cheerleader and friend. I was going to trust that I’d be okay. Even if I fell.

But I didn’t fall. I caught myself.

As we moved on to the next postures, Kelly gave us corrections and had a question for me:

“Hey Lisa, do you know you have a giant grin on your face right now?”

I didn’t know. But I wasn’t surprised.

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