Class Notes, Week 58: Pincha Mayurasana

The Moksha yoga teacher training program requires me to journal once each week about my experience with the poses and assignments + my practice and progress. This is part of that weekly assignment.

Most yogis have that one pose they avoid.  Maybe “avoid” is the wrong word — a pose that challenges to the point it could very well inspire avoidance to those who didn’t have motivation to progress.

Years ago, I secretly gulped when yoga teachers would make me hold chair pose for what seemed like an ungodly amount of time.  My quads would always quiver and shake.  Pigeon was another one.  My hips just didn’t open at all, and that pose felt like slow torture.

Now, I love both of those poses.  Love them, love them, love them.  It comes after years and years of practice and perseverance.  As Shiva Rea told a group of us a few months ago in Santorini, “They thing you feared most can transform into the thing you cannot live without.”  How true.

Just because I’ve gotten over the hurdle with chair and pigeon, however, doesn’t mean that there aren’t poses that still cause me to gulp.  There are plenty new challenges, some fun and some fear-inducing.  That’s what’s so cool about asana practice — there are always more “new” poses to keep you goal-oriented.

Tonight I was forced to confront a fear-inducing pose during Gabriel Halpern’s master yoga class: Pincha Mayurasana.  Scorpion pose, to be specific.

I love handstand, headstand, shoulderstand … all inversions, really.  But something about forearm balances still scares me.  It’s ironic and awesome, considering that I’m holding my thesis workshop in a few weeks on inversions and overcoming challenges.

Nothing like speaking from experience.

When Gabriel planted a backbending ramp-like structure against the wall and told me to get into Pincha Mayurasana (forearm balance) in front of it, I had a momentary panic attack.  He must have noticed it, because he immediately said he’d spot me.

I kicked up into the forearm balance (with Gabriel’s spot), opened my heart to arch my back, lifted up out of my shoulders, bent my knees … then planted my feet on the ramp-like structure and slowly started walking my feet toward my body.

It would have looked something like this.

With a goal of eventually holding the pose like this.

I did this scorpion prep with the backbend ramp three times, and the third time felt a spectacular surge of empowerment.  Even though I was still shaky getting into Pincha Mayurasana, once I was able to hold it and play around with scorpion, I achieved a small victory.  It’s a great little vignette to weave into my workshop in a few weeks — it shows that I still have fears to overcome, I’m not a perfect yogini who’s absolutely mastered the art of inversions.  But, I do know the inner power they have the capacity to unlock, even with small victories like the one I experienced tonight.

With time, hopefully, I’ll learn to love scorpion as I do chair and pigeon.

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