It was a while ago that I promised to write about fear for the Camyoga blog, at which point I was hit with a case of writer’s block; yoga has helped me face my fears in so many ways I struggled to know where to begin. 459 steps later, at the top of the Campanile tower in Florence I found my inspiration. As I came out of the door at the top of the tower a wash of vertigo swept over me; all of sudden I felt dizzy, heart pounding and my first instinct was to run right back through the door I’d just exited. As I stood there frozen, the words of my teacher Ana Forrest popped into my head; “Rosalind, breathe”. I realized I was indeed holding my breath, that I was totally stuck in my head with the stories of my fear weaving a vicious web around me. As I deepened my breathing and connected with my feet and hands I was able to plug myself back into my body and the reality of the present moment. My heartbeat slowed down and I was able to actually allow myself to enjoy the amazing view I had gone up there to enjoy. I even managed to get upside down for day 161 of my 365-day handstand challenge – my highest handstand yet!
Deep breathing and active hands and feet are two of the fundamental aspects of Forrest Yoga; you’re taught them from the very start and use them in every single class. These are also two of the vital tools which help us to overcome fear both on and off the yoga mat. The next time you feel fearful check-in: are you holding your breath? Can you feel your feet and hands? Deepen your breath (and yes, full on ujayi is acceptable if it’s what you need!) and take a moment to feel the energy it brings to you. Spread your fingers and hand bones open, spread your toes and pull up on your foot arches. Notice that you can feel your feet/legs supporting you, and the energy moving from your lungs and heart through your arms to the tips of your fingers. Now you are connected back into your body, ask yourself which part of this can I do? How can I work with this fear rather than be beaten by it?
Use your time on your yoga mat as a mini laboratory; a safe place where you can experiment with facing smaller scale fears- whether it be going upside down, trying a new pose or even just doing something in a non-habitual way. Then make a warrior’s choice to transfer what you learn off your mat and into the rest of your life. And before you know it, the fierce lion facing you will have become a purring kitten! Rosalind Southward
Rosalind Southward teaches Yoga Flow at Camyoga. Rosalind teaches Forrest, Vinyasa, Hot, Yin Yoga and is also a CranioSacral therapist. She has taught yoga in Malaysia, Scotland and is now based in Peterborough. To view her classes at Camyoga click here