I spent the first 3 years of my yoga practice journey avoiding any kind of inversion like the plague.
Well, not any kind because a forward fold (bending over) or a down dog (a V-type version of a plank) are considered inversions. I should say any inversion that meant my feet left the ground.
As a child, I was never a gymnast, didn’t learn how to do a cartwheel, and never learned how to dive well. Upside down was just not my thing unless one of my uncle’s was swinging me around by my ankles, my pigtails flapping in the wind (something I enjoyed tremendously, oddly enough).
Then one day my yoga studio made an inversion—the kind where my feet would have to leave the ground—the “pose of the month.”
When the teacher announced headstand was what we would work on all month long, the blood drained out of my face, my heart started racing, and panic set in.
Well, “that’s that,” I thought. “I’ll just have to skip yoga until this blows over.”
After I calmed down and regained my composure, I decided to just try learning how to do a headstand. I saw lots of people do them all the time and no one died. Surely I had a shot at coming out of this alive—and maybe even actually accomplishing one. But really I mostly just wanted to not die.
As any wise yogi would, I hopped on YouTube. I was not about to practice headstand at the studio with all my friends watching and judging me. Or so I thought. Not one person was ever really watching me—except the teacher when she was supposed to be.
YouTube proved quite helpful. I practiced exactly what the lady in the video said to do, right next to the safety net of the wall, every day for a week.
That weekend, on Saturday morning, I decided to…gasp…move away from the wall. I situated myself in a spot where I couldn’t break anything if I fell over, akawhack my head and die.
I assumed the proper headstand position, took a deep breath, and popped right up.
I was just as shocked as you probably are right now.
It turned out that I really enjoyed the view from upside down. You see a lot of things differently from an inversion point of view.
One thing I saw really differently—fear.
When my feet landed safely back on the floor my first thought was “Wow, that was so much fun. What in the heck was I so afraid of?!?”
My next thought was “Hey—if I can do that, I can do anything!”
That is how strong the story of fear I had built up around inversions was.
The experience of conquering a fear of any kind will change your life. You will go down paths you never thought possible for you before.
The first step in conquering my fear was simply to decide to do it. Once I made that decision, the rest fell into place.
It was the exact same when I conquered the next fear—leaving my fancypants corporate job aka perceived security/comfort zone.
I made the decision, set about putting my financial house in order, got my first client, and turned in my resignation. Granted this process took about a year or so, but it still happened. Better late than never, right?
Taking risks, moving out of our comfort zones, and conquering our fears is the only path, I repeat the only path, to growth of any kind. Whether it’s in business, life, or relationships. Fear will always be the only thing holding you back. Believe in yourself and your capabilities.