Last night I attended a workshop at my studio called “Face Your Fears,” taught by a visiting instructor. The theme was appropriate for Halloween eve, and the focus was on opening up to arm balances, inversions and backbends in your practice. The instructor began the workshop by asking what fears we have on our mats. Some students said they feared falling out of handstand, another said that she feared that her arms would come off if she fell out of forearm stand.
I used tell myself that I either didn’t have fears in yoga poses, or that my fear was of falling. Recently, I realized that my fear is of failure.
I am by nature a perfectionist. The positive of this has been that I am highly self-motivated. However, in the past year I’ve come to acknowledge the challenges of being a perfectionist. One of these is that I am often reluctant or anxious to try something new unless I am 100% confident that I can do it. I recognize that this has manifested itself throughout my life in everything from sports to my work life, and yes, my yoga mat.
Last night at the workshop I admitted to myself that I am scared to work on inversions and drop backs (dropping backward from standing into Wheel pose) because I am not confident that I can do them. I always remind my students that the best thing about yoga is that there is always somewhere to grow. I say, “If were mastered every yoga pose on the first try, we’d get bored and never come back.” So, it was time to listen to my own advice. I tried a forearm stand at the wall using blocks and surprised myself when I was able to hold it. I also volunteered to demonstrate an assisted drop back because I am very afraid of those. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and I think each assisted drop back I do will get me closer to doing them on my own.
If I can use the drive of my perfectionism and let go of my fear of failure, who knows what other crazy challenges I’ll take on in my life?