My life is so full I often think I might burst.
I meet people from all over the world on my travels as a yoga teacher. Some of my dearest current friends were introduced “by chance” and live a plane ride away. One friend from Rhode Island friend, whom I bonded with at Kripalu, sent me a sweet token in the form of a ring that bares a small medallion reading “air,” for my element.
Funny enough, a week later I decided to step directly into, or rather out of, my element and went skydiving. Yes, I jumped out of a perfectly good plane with a smile on my face and a rather handsome fellow strapped to my back. Honestly, not half bad until you face the moment peering over the edge of the plane 14,000 feet up in the air knowing you’re about to be flung into it.
It was in those 5 seconds that I looked fear straight in the face. I realized I wasn’t afraid of dying, I was afraid of the unknown. As I took a deep breath, thanked God, spirit, and anyone or anything else looking out for me that I was with a professional, I knew that there was no turning back. I had to walk through my fear and not around it.
Then we jumped. My fear instantly transformed into joy, and I was in love.
Sound familiar? These are the same struggles we encounter on our yoga mats. The fear of the unknown–what will it feel like? Will it be uncomfortable? Will I fail? These thoughts bind us in a prison of our own making. We cry out for help when we have everything we need to find our own freedom.
My instructor, Bob Crossman, put it best when asked what skydiving means to him:
“My parachute feels like an extension of my body that allows me to soar. I know why birds sing.”
So please, take a deep inhale, take a chance, believe in your abilities. Soar, sing, fly. It’s yours for the taking.
Step 1: Throw on your jumpsuit. . .
Start in Downward-Facing Dog. Step the right foot forward to meet the hands, and drop the left knee to the ground. Take both forearms to the inside of the front leg and lower down (use blocks if you need them). Straighten the back leg and take 8 breaths. Next, grab the right calf with the right hand and snuggle the shoulder behind the muscle by dipping the chest down. Place both of the palms flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart, and extend the gaze and chest forward as the rear heel pulls back to create traction.
Step 2: Prepare your gear. . .
Keep everything from Step 1 and look forward. Lift the hips and hop the back foot in toward the right foot. This will feel awkward, but will basically take you into a Forward Standing Fold with your right shoulder behind your right leg. Fun. Keep the gaze slightly past the right toes so you don’t feel like somersaulting over.
Step 3: Test your chute. . .
Place the left knee high up the left arm like a Crow leg. You can wrap the knee around the arm or place it directly onto your tricep–try both and see what works best for you. Keep the knee on the arm (right foot is still down) and lift the left foot off the ground and toward your bottom. Your left side stays nice and compact as the hips begin to drop. Look out in front of you as you continue to lower the hips. The right foot will get lighter and eventually come all the way off the ground. Try to hover here or with just the toes touching.
Step 4: Soar and fly into Eka Pada Bakasana
Once the right foot leaves the ground, hug the inner thigh around the right arm. Drop your hips so you’re soon folding your left leg into a little yoga sandwich. Spread your collarbone and extend the right leg straight just as you would in Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose). Hug the outer arms in and press the palms to help the arms straighten. Take a good 5-8 breaths then set down and come into Standing Forward Fold to release.
Kathryn Budig is a yoga teacher, writer, philanthropist,Women’s Health expert, Huffington Post, Elephant Journal, MindBodyGreen + Yoga Journal blogger, foodie, and lover of her dog. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook or on her website.