I have been practicing Iyengar yoga for the past few years and I wanted to write about my experiences in doing the asana Ado mukha Vrikshaasana, or full arm balance (upside down on the palms)
When I started practicing yoga, I was a newbie. So, asanas like the full arm balance were attempted only after 3 years. Just the fact of being upside down brought a lot of fear in the mind. When I actually started doing it, my yoga instructor would hoist me up near the wall and hold on to my legs, while I felt my weight on the shoulders, wrist and elbow. I would be in the pose for a few seconds and my instructor would help me back on to safe ground and I would be relieved 🙂
As the next step, I would still need to be hoisted up, but had gained enough strength and confidence that I could be in the pose without somebody holding my legs. And then I learnt to come out of the pose without help. So, all was going well, isn’t it?
As a couple of years went by, my teacher used to encourage me to jump into the pose. I would attempt, half heartedly, once in a while and felt like my legs were as heavy as lead. And one day about a month back, I felt like all my preparation over the years coming towards something. I could actually feel it in my bones that I would do something different that day. I attempted to go up and Voila, I was actually on my hands upside down. I let out a cry of triumph – YES. It was one magical day for me, I was ecstatic but didn’t attempt it again that day as I didn’t want to let go of the sweet taste of success. What followed actually stumped me.
When I went back home and thought about it, I couldn’t figure out how exactly I went up and then the voice in my head started talking. The voice said – “If you don’t know how you did it, how are you going to repeat it” and this conversation happened in a lot of different forms, sometimes loud and sometimes sneaking in quietly. As a result, I didn’t attempt it in the next few classes.
This mental chatter has been raging in my head ever since. What I am surprised about is, there wasn’t as much noise when I couldn’t do the asana. Now, each time I attempt it, there is this thought – WILL I BE ABLE TO DO IT, WILL I FAIL, HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO ATTEMPT IT BEFORE I SUCCEED. Phew. I use the word chatter repeatedly because it is just that – annoying, loud, distracting.
When I step back and think about it, this has become complicated because of this voice in my head. I am left wondering, how often do we complicate things because of our thoughts and doubts. We create more problems than necessary because of our thoughts and a lot of times, these are imagined rather than real.
In recent days, inspite of the doubting voice in my head, I have been trying the asana and my success rate is slowly improving. Would I do better without the chatter, YES. So, I am now trying to recognize when it happens and step out of it – by ignoring the voice and using it to my advantage, using it to encourage me.
What situations cause mental chatter for you and what do you do in the situation?