Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Crow Pose - Breaking the Seal

A few years back, SweetPea and I attempted to take the Monkeys to the California State Fair. It was a ridiculously hot August day. As we were cruising the parking lot, hoping for a decent space, SweetPea turned a corner and slid a tire into the corner of the liftgate of a bobtail van, slicing the tire open.

The driver of the van attempted to get Babe, our truck, up on a jack to change the tire for us. Three different types of jacks failed to get the tire off the ground. He even tried adding blocks to the jack to increase the lift height. It was like that tire commercial where the tires pull up chunks of concrete when the mechanic tries to lift the car. Our truck was notorious for tire problems and we always had to call a tow truck because that's what it took to get Babe off the ground enough to change the tire*.

Throughout my adventure in yoga, I have had several occasions where partner or acro yoga was practiced, usually with the purpose of lifting or de-weighting your partner. While I usually participate, I don't generally make much of an effort to allow myself to become airborne. In fact, my memories of most of these practices involve my desperately trying to just keep my feet on the floor. I'm sure a large part of it is just not wanting to subject my 242 pounds to another person, but the rest? I don't really know.

I have, however, noticed a consistent and determined need for my feet to be on the floor.


I guess I should say that I have noticed a need for my feet to be in contact with a surface, grounded in some way.

If you've ever seen me walk my feet up a wall while in downward facing dog, you'll understand why this surface doesn't need to be a floor.

This weekend, Francisco Morales-Bermudez of Synergy came out and, yes, we did some acro/partner/thai massage yoga & yoga assisting. I tried really hard to keep my feet on the floor, y'all. I participated in the thai massage based yoga assisting practice. I participated as a base and flew my practice partner.

I tried really hard.

Finally, with Francisco serving as a spotter, and in a pose where the person serving as base physically picks your feet up off the floor (did you see that one coming?), I was brought completely up off the ground.

I'm totally not here to tell you about how the experience was an epiphany, euphoric, amazing, because I'm not sure that I would frame it in any such way. But my feet came off the earth and I was safe and supported and it was a deeply new and unusual experience for me.

In a way, it changed the standard.

For most of my yoga practice, inversions** and arm balances have largely eluded me. There are practical reasons for some of these, attributable to the dimensions of my current physical shape***, that may or may not eventually be addressed through continued practice. While I have been able to get up into crow pose, it is usually for just that barest breath of stillness on the way back out of the pose.

Crow Pose

Even as I've gotten stronger, in general and in my yoga practice, crow pose has continued to elude me.

Well, shit, girl. Your feet have to leave the floor to be in Crow Pose.

Sunday afternoon, after my adventure leaving the floor that morning, our class participated in a fundraising event, Flow 4 a Cause. By the time we got there, I was physically exhausted. Between our practice that morning and our adventure the day before (which I'll tell you about tomorrow), I was so tired. My legs were toast. I didn't really think I had an actual yoga practice left in me.

During the flow of a practice that I did, indeed, still have in me, we came through to crow pose. Nice & easy, taking our time to play with it. I was actually taking a rest when the practice came to crow pose. Maybe because I'd dreamt about it the night before, maybe because I was feeling more confident about getting my feet off the floor, I stepped back up to play with it.

I've done this so many times that I can do it from memory.

Get my knees up up up onto the backs of my arms, hips high, core engaged, taking more and more weight onto my arms until I can release one foot from the ground.

This time, though, there was a steadiness at this point. My body felt solid in the pose, those last wiggly toes gripping more out of fear and habit than necessity, until they just let go.

And, no, it wasn't just that easy. It took a couple of tries before I could do it without wobbling promptly back out. Even then I wasn't there for more than a solid breath.

But I was there.

The seal was broken. My feet had floated free of the earth.

Suspended in space.

Just as safe as before.

*Only once was a jack ever successful, and this was managed by a dapper gentleman in designer jeans who showed up in a two seater Mercedes Benz. Really.

**By "inversions" I mean poses like head stand, shoulder stand... the ones where your feet leave the floor.

***Look, this isn't a crack about my size, and I'm not putting myself down. Some of the arm balances are beyond my reach right now because of the shape of my body. I'm ok with that. You should be, too.

PS: one of my biggest (irrational) fears is falling. Which I think totally explains most of this experience.

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