Hitting the Wall

Several years before I even knew what yoga was,  I actually ran two marathons. I certainly did not break any ground speed records, but it was an awesome experience that taught me one of life's most important lessons: you can do anything that you set your mind to do. Although I am extremely devoted to my yoga practice, I still love to run.

Mile 8, Marine Corps Marathon - 2007

Thanksgiving 2011 - 8k Race

Most distance runners fear one thing more than all others: hitting the wall. Scientifically, this means that glycogen stores in your liver and muscles are so depleted that you truly can't perform the active function that you need to: running. You stop dead in your tracks - as if you have hit a wall. It is not fun - and it wrecks your run. Worst-case scenario - this happens on race day. This is why some runners meticulously plan things like meals, water, gatorade, etc around their runs. Balancing your body's chemistry helps to prevent you from hitting the wall.

This past Tuesday night in Kiki's class, I had an interesting epiphany when I quite literally hit the wall falling out of easy bird of paradise. Now in my case, this pose is a bit of a misnomer because it is not easy and certainly doesn't look like paradise when I find my way into it. Additionally, if this is easy bird, than I am not yet ready to see the hard one.

I digress.

So I fall out of easy bird and hit the wall. It would be one of three times that night that I fell out of a pose and onto a wall or the floor. It was also one of three major breakthroughs that I had after falling: in easy bird, in scissors, and in head to ankle.

I don't usually let myself fall in yoga. And I know it holds me back. I will grip the hell out of the floor or my hands in order to stay upright. I think it comes from a fight or flight mentality that dies hard, from a deep fear that falling is just one letter away from failing.

Yoga, per usual, turns my old patterns of reasoning upside down.

In running, hitting the wall is a dreaded consequence of our body being out of balance.

In our yoga practice, falling and hitting the wall is how our bodies learn to balance.

Falling helps us to find our place in space, to orient where we are in relation to where we should be.

Not to mention that falling down is how each and every one of us first learned how to walk. 

The difference? As young children, we weren't afraid to fall.

So I'm working on embracing a different kind of child's pose: the one where we fall, laugh, and get back up.

And try again.

Because hitting the wall is not failure - it's breaking a pose wide open.

Easy bird...getting easier...ever so slowly.