There aren’t any poses that scare me anymore. I may not be able to complete a form, but there is no fear or worry over that fact. However, there is one pose that taught me how to drop my fear: drop backs!
Backbends were accessible from the beginning for me. During my first year with Tony, about three years into a regular yoga practice, I was working on lots of assisted drop backs. It was clear my body could handle the bend with ease and that drop backs were possible. Tony would have me cross my arms over my chest as he assisted, ask me to lower my head to within an inch or so of the floor and pause there… before returning to stand. “It is only fear,” he would say 5 inches from my face, dead in the eye.
Years went by and I just could not get over the hump from assisted to free standing drop backs. I would practice dropping back from camel… which is actually harder on the musculature of the back body than practicing it from standing, but created no fear in my system. I would walk up and down the wall. I would stand in Tadasana and TRY and drop back but could not get it to happen. My body would back out each and every time. It was ridiculous really. It was a clear case of the mind inhibiting the body’s potential for experience. CLEAR CUT!
Years into these attempts, I had a thought occur to me that changed my experience entirely. I mean… it flipped me in a heartbeat. I realized that it was no longer interesting to be afraid of drop backs. I realized that I was BORED with the problem of fearing it. The cycle of trying and failing had become so mundane, so banal… I mean what’s the worst case scenario here… a bruised skull? What? What was the big deal? Why was I entertaining this feeling?
In that moment… literally… I went to the carpet (‘cause I’m not entirely risk intolerant ;)…. stood in Tadasana…. bent back as FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR as I could on my feet…. and dropped down…. right onto my hands!
I have never feared another pose. In fact… within a few weeks of this experience, I was lifting back up into Tadasana from said backbend.
“It is only fear.”