Yoga Theology: Fear Fall

On October 17, 2013, I will celebrate my first headstand-iversary. In case you're sleepy while reading this blog, that's a combination of "headstand" and "anniversary." As I shared in the post, "Yoga Theology: The Strength to Go Upside Down," what held me back from an inversion for so long was a fear of falling and getting hurt. When I finally did stand on my head, I was amazed at how good it felt.

Since then, I've stood on my head occasionally, but I've always done so against a wall. The wall made me feel safe. I knew that I could not fall forward if the wall were there to catch me.

This summer, my "safety net" was pulled out from under me. Private lessons with a classical hatha instructor found me preparing for a "real" headstand--in the middle of the floor. No wall. No net. Nothing.

I did some exercises with my head and forearms on the ground for weeks. They felt good, I felt strong, and my neck felt stable. The time arrived last Friday to lift my feet off the ground. Hamilton, the instructor, warned me not to come up, not to straighten my legs. All I was supposed to do was lift my feet and keep my knees bent while balancing on my arms and head.

In the middle of the hardwood floor, I did as he said. With more ease than I expected, I was upside down. "Don't come up," he said. But my legs naturally began to straighten. It felt so easy to lift them that I didn't even realize what I was doing! But he was right; I wasn't ready to come into the full headstand yet.

How did I know this?

Because I fell down.

I lost my balance, toppled to the left, and landed safely on my side. Neck and shoulders were fine, but hip and pride were bruised. As soon as I rolled up to sitting, I was laughing. I reassured Hamilton that I was okay.

"I'm so glad that happened," I said. "My greatest fear of headstand was falling. Now I fell. And it wasn't so bad after all!"

"You fell correctly," he explained. "You pressed into your arms and didn't jerk your neck. If you were going to fall, that's the way to fall."

Think for a moment about the things that scare you most. Think of risks you haven't taken because you were afraid of the outcomes. Paul writes in 2 Timothy that "God has not given us a timid spirit but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled" (1:7, Common English Bible). So often we live life from that "timid spirit," which is also translated as "spirit of fear." What often holds us back is the belief that something bad might happen.

Yes, bad things happen in life -- worse than falling out of headstands. Sometimes we really do get hurt: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We're hurt by broken relationships. A church "lets us down." Such experiences often usher in fear, which keeps us from forming new relationships or visiting other churches, for example. When fear overwhelms us, there is no room for power, love, and self control--all gifts from God.

Such power, love, and self control are what prepare us for the valleys of life--the times when we and others do "fall." We don't have to fear those times but rather can rest in the knowing that God will be with us. No fear is too great for God's shoulders to bear, and we can live abundantly when we release those concerns.

Whether or not you attempt to stand on your head this week (please make sure a certified instructor other than I is present!), may you go with hope and not with fear. To help you along the way, here's an uplifting number from the Doves.

And by the way, August 30, the day of the headstand tumble, is my fall-iversary. Despite all that I learned, I'm hoping not to have a repeat performance last year. But if I do--oh well. If we fall, and we all will, may we fall into the arms of grace time after time.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian