Taking Off the Training Wheels

Training wheels. The blessed little extra help on that bike that helped you keep up. It allowed you to feel like you were really balancing, when two small wheels were helping to distribute your weight across that seat. You hardly noticed that they were there.

Training Wheels. Remember them?
And then, as you started progressing, you did notice those training wheels. Particularly when you took a turn too tightly. They started to hold you back more than they helped. Plus, you wanted a 10-speed bike. And training wheels don't work on bicycles with gears. And shifting gears on a big-kid bike is only the most amazing thing you can do.

I remember desperately wanting those training wheels to come off - to ride without encumbrance on speed and destination.

And I recall being scared shitless (although I am sure I didn't necessarily use that term at age 6), when my dad finally got out the screwdriver and dismantled them.

Those first few tries: helmet on, hands white-knuckling the handle bars, ready to fall into a bush at any second.

And you fall, fall, fall and fall again. Until one day your brain makes that connection and you ride without help. It isn't that you learned it that very second. That second is the final synergy of belief between brain, body, and soul.


After a few days of riding on your own, your muscle memory is set. Every time you get on a bike, you reclaim that balance.

A few weeks ago, I realized that maybe I had some of the same fears going on with yoga.

The signs were there: a dreaded plateau in my personal practice, my brain wandering more frequently, and feeling a little more like I was executing than exploring.

An astute teacher kindly pointed out that maybe - just maybe - I was fearing a little more than feeling. (Thanks, Pete). He didn't just say it once. He said it multiple times.

In subtle and not so subtle ways, he called me out on my training wheels a little bit. 

And finally it clicked.

Somewhere, in the quest to keep myself safe in my practice and to move away from pushing, I popped a few training wheels on. I only tried handstand in a way that I could reliably execute. Forearm balance only with my arms clasped in front. Just regular crow pose - no jumping back. I would practice scissors, but just little lifts with my feet. No falling. No making mistakes.

It was keeping me off the ground, but getting me nowhere.

So I decided to take off the training wheels and get back to the business of being curious, and risky, and real in my practice. 

I have realized that there are plenty of souls willing to hold the seat as I'm learning how to balance in new territory. It is okay to say - that scares me. It is not okay to live in fear and never try. In the end, life is full of bushes and scraped knees and unplanned meetings with the ground.

Today, in Pete's class, I finally landed scissors on both sides without a fuss. And I jumped back to crow. And every muscle in my body believed that I could. And so did my brain.

And no one was even holding the handle bars. No one was even watching.

Feeling and flying, not fearing. No training wheels to see here.


All by myself.