I am not a patient person. This is a fact in my family. One of my earliest memories is of my thrifty grandfather handing my sister and me a Lindt chocolate square each, and instructing us “nicht kauen!” (“Don’t chew”). My sister, who is supremely patient, followed instructions. In contrast I would rapidly demolish said chocolate, open wide to demonstrate and beam up at my grandad in total certainty there would be MORE. I used to be comfortable with this definition of me because, when necessary, others forced patience upon me. ( Keyword: Arabic degree..)
However, when I *met* pincha mayurasana, this all changed (I won’t take the love letter theme much further I promise.. Stay with me). Patience was suddenly necessary, and no one was going to help me. No one was going to give me a timeline, or a way to cheat this, to fast forward and instantly excel.
Retrospectively, I have a timeline for you: Two years and two months ago is when I first met this pose. The precise moment is still with me:
It was December 2013 and I was about to move to Laos. I was madly in love with this man, and heartbroken to be leaving him. And so practising very consistently, in his attic, to keep my focus (This attic is now a recording studio, by the way. That you can rent. I recommend it!).
I was in headstand, when this crazy little voice said “what happens if you..”. Now, sidenote: normally, I love this voice. Yogis will know it well; it pops up in the middle of your practise and suggests you try things your mind and body never thought possible. It is courage, it is optimism.
On this particular day, the voice was, however stupid. It said “what happens if you lift your head up?”. Which I did. Held it too, for about two seconds. And then my body/mind realised my muscles weren’t set up to support this unprecedented pose, and I came crashing down. Take note: having your body weight come crashing down on your neck/head is foolish and may result in death. Do not try this, please. Set your foundations first, I beg you.
As I lay on the floor, slowing my nervous system back down to “it’s cool we’re still alive”, I decided this was a pose I wanted to learn. Slowly. Patiently. With integrity and quiet strength. And yes, also as a means of creating presence in a time when the bigger picture of my life was too overwhelming. (Thank you, all of yoga, for this).
This was difficult. And new to me. My body quite naturally bends into lots of postures. But this would require building muscles, and teaching them to engage so that this pose could be safe, supported. And, hardest of all, entered into slowly.
So, for months, I practised. And all the breakthrough moments are with me. The day I could come up into this without so much momentum I made the wall shake, in my extremely humid Lao bedroom. The day in my friend Denis’ house in Vientiane I could hold this with a neutral pelvis, knees bent and feet flat on the wall of my lao bedroom. The day, back in the UK in my mamas house, I no longer needed a block to frame my hands. The day, back in London at yoga school, my beautiful yogini colleague Lynne Fugard gave me the tip: “look forward”, and suddenly, I was hanging in mid air.
And today. When I can come into this slowly, deliberately, in the middle of the room. When my body knows this pose, but my mind doesn’t yet believe it. Which means, every single moment of flight is this breathtaking miracle.
Thank you pincha, for patience. ♡