I was feeling limber, flexible, confident. I had moved through the class with strength; I was holding each pose we flowed through. And then my teacher called out the instructions for an addition I had never tried. I felt like I could do it, so up and over I went, into a Wheel, and then my feet started moving up the wall, ready to walk all the way over and land standing facing the very wall I was walking up.
Except it didn’t work like that at all. I slipped and fell flat on my head, crumpling loudly onto the ground, cutting my wrist in the process and bleeding onto my yoga mat.
We’re programmed to protect our heads, and we’re socially conditioned to avoid failure and embarrassment. I nailed my head, failed at the pose and embarrassed myself (though in a class of yogis, everyone was gracious enough to pretend not to notice). My earlier confidence had also taken a tumble, and I slunk out of class and onto my bus, nursing a bruised ego and skull.
This was on Friday, and ordinarily, I would have taken the weekend off to let my wounds heal and separate myself mentally from that last class. However, I had already signed up weeks ago for a special Inversion workshop held on Sunday. It’s one thing to get back up after a fall, but it’s a step further to go back to a class completely focused on being upside down.
That’s the tough thing about life. Unless you never do anything, failure in some way is a guarantee. It’s what we do after we fail that defines us. Do we give up? Convince ourselves whatever we were trying was never worth it? I admit, I’ve done that before. But it doesn’t lead anywhere. When you give up, you just shrink. Refusing to learn and overcome renders you less than the sum of your experience.
So I went to my Sunday class. I did set up on the opposite side of the room, so I wouldn’t remind myself of my fall, but once I got going, it didn’t even matter. Instead of remembering my failure, my body remembered its strength, and my confidence returned as I went upside down and learned more about headstands and myself. By the end of 90 minutes, I was exhilarated.
There are so many places in life where it feels like you’re down for the count, and you’re tired and hurt and want to stop. But stopping only brings you down further, whereas perseverance is what makes that pain worth going through.
So let’s take a lesson from the under appreciated band Chumbawamba and let life know, “You’re never going to keep me down!”