This past summer, my 24-year-old daughter climbed more than 50 feet above the ground, strapped on a harness, grabbed a bar and jumped off a platform. She flew on the flying trapeze next to the Hudson River!
Often, she will call as she walks to various destinations in New York City, and this day was no different. She is a jewelry designer and was actually getting her spring line ready, even though it was not yet fall. It had turned August into a hectic work month as she designed and produced her new line. She called to vent about the hitches and obstacles she was facing.
I am an understanding and patient mother: I don’t understand why all that is making you crazy! I exclaimed. Why aren’t you beside yourself about going on a flying trapeze?!? Call me when it’s over!
My daughter has always been what I call a participant. At five years old, she let the summer camp counselor put a floatie on her back, and she jumped off the high dive. She learned how to swim without hesitation. Growing up, she went on every roller coaster no matter how high or how many loops. She has been hot air ballooning twice. She is always game to try something new. And now the flying trapeze.
Are you sure she is your daughter? my friends ask me.
I am cautious. I was not always this way. As a young child, I was pretty much a tomboy. Growing up, I would pretty much just follow my gut, not thinking too hard about things and making decisions easily.
In yoga, I have had to tap back into that fearlessness, wherever it hides, in order to attempt many poses. When I first started yoga, I could get into some of the initial phases of poses by virtue of simply being coordinated. But, as I progressed, yoga seemed to demand more of me, and not just strength and stretch and balance. It demanded fearlessness, and it started with Crow.
Crow begins with a yoga squat. Crouched low on the mat, hands are placed in front of the feet with elbows bent. Knees sneak up onto the elbows, making their way towards the underarms. The body tilts forward, the face leans down, the bottom comes up, and the feet come off the ground.
The instructor would demonstrate Crow for the room. He would easily lean into it and even go further, pressing into his hands and raising his body into the air, his legs lifting easily toward the sky, floating diagonally and against gravity on just his hands, face resting in the air above the mat.
For myself, I feared a face plant.
Once you are not afraid to teeter forward, he’d say, you will be able to feel it and find it.
It took quite some time for me to risk the fear of leaning forward and to trust myself to find that teeter point. It just did not seem to make sense in my head. However, after a while, it made sense to my body, and I found it.
Today, I move easily into Crow, my face inches from the mat. Perched there, it is a far cry from climbing 50 feet in the air and flying above a net but, to me, I am soaring.