Wheel - Upward Bow
When Vijai, my yoga teacher, heard about my quest to go upside down he was confused. "I've taken you up into handstand before, haven't I?" Yes, it's true, I said "but it doesn't count if you're hauling my legs up and holding my weight for me!"
After 10 years of studying under Vijai, I trust him with my life. Several times, he has taken me into Wheel Pose from standing up. This would be terrifying to me if I stopped to think about it - standing, reaching up, bending back, and blindly landing on my hands while praying I don't fall on my head and break my neck. But with him supporting my upper back, I could pretty much close my eyes, let my mind go blank and have him do the work. Ta da!
Last night, he took me into Wheel Pose and I was clear-headed enough to take in everything he said. "Ground your feet, feel your feet, drop the tailbone, lift the sternum, lift, lift, feel your legs, legs, legs, look up, reach up, sternum, sternum, I've got you, I got you, I got you, Go for it!" and with that, I stretched out my arms and landed hands down.
"I've got you, I got you, I got you." In the flood of instruction the moment of trust. Followed immediately by "Go for it!" Now you're on your own.
To my surprise the pose grew from there. "Yes! Now lift the head, spread the muscles of the back, straight arms, tuck the tailbone, feel the stretch of the chest, beautiful!" Strong and light at the same time. A sail full of air.
"I got you. Now go for it!" - is there a better mantra for parenting, for teaching, for friendship?
Thank you, Vijai, for knowing when to lift and when to let go. For teaching me how to teach, how to learn, how to fly. Namaste.
P.S. Vijai directs the Integral Yoga Upper West Side Center and teaches on Tuesday nights. http://www.iynyc.com/sched.html