I, like…I don’t know, everyone who isn’t 5, have a mild fear of falling out of inversions. Note, this fear has been downgraded from a 9.6 to a 4.2 after a lot of practice and play, but it’s still definitely there.
After picking up “Light on Yoga,” B.K.S. Iyengar’s masterwork instructing the hows, whens and where’s to do the vast majority of asana, and reading his thoughts on headstand, (he advocates doing it in the middle of the room sooner rather than later, so as to encourage confidence in the beginner) I decided to swallow my fear and work on shirsasana in the middle of the room.
However, since I am indeed a bit of a chicken, I decided to make a landing pad, consisting of two floor pillows and a beanbag chair.
I have to admit, the hours I have spent practicing headstand have been some of the most enjoyable I have experienced since early childhood, mostly because I fall almost every time. Since I am falling into a pile of softness, however, I am able to relax, giggle, take a moment and start again. It has really helped take the fear away from falling.
Do I necessarily advocate this as a methodology of practice? No. If you are an uninjured, intermediate to advanced practitioner, I’d say that practicing in the middle of the room without props is perhaps the best way to overcome fear once and for all, because goodness knows, I’ll have to start again when the beanbag chair goes away. However, the addition of the pillows has made headstand and falling out of headstand a child-like adventure, and made me feel safe to explore and test the boundaries.
What do you do in your practice that’s unconventional but has helped you?