Taking the plunge to ground with yoga

13 Apr

I stood at the edge, my feet under the wobbly board, beneath me a sea of deep blue water distorting the surface at the bottom. To the frightened child in me, that dark blue bottom seemed  endless.

But it was just the deep end of the pool, and that summer, as I confronted my paralyzing fears about jumping off the diving board  for the first time, I found myself in a state of panic.

What if my feet didn’t reach the bottom after I jumped, propelling me back to the surface, where I could gasp for breath. What if swallowed water….or worse, could not make my way back up?

For days, I walked on the board, taking the few steps needed to get to the edge, a journey started on solid footing but ending on that last stretch that undulates with your weight, and really, nerves. Each time, I turned around, too scared to jump.

All my friends were jumping off, some doing bombshells, others diving head on. I was too gripped by the fear of jumping into an unfamiliar depth. I walked to the edge, looked down into the depth, stomach turning, then steeled myself to retrace my steps back to the ladder. I was too scared to jump.

I’ve relived those feelings in yoga, stepping up to a pose, going to the edge, peering over….then letting fear get the best of me as I back away. What am I afraid of, I ask myself. Of falling? All four inches to the ground?

Fear is such a powerful force. That preoccupation with the unknown and uncertainty can take such hold of us that we lose sight of what’s in front of us and the richness and bounty we stand to seize if we give in to that fear.

I love that  yoga offers me opportunities to face my fears — whether in a pose or a challenge to practice a yoga principle. I think of my mat as the diving board that summer in my youth: a place I trembled with fear, but once I take the plunge, conquer my fears and just do the task, find profound stillness and grounding.

I jumped off the deep end that summer — and I’m jumping still.


One Response to “Taking the plunge to ground with yoga”

  1. Ileana April 13, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    Like so many of life’s challenges- we need to have faith in our abilities and take the plunge.

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