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Jumping Out: What aerial yoga taught me about fear

A couple of months ago a good friend convinced me to try a new way of staying fit and healthy – aerial yoga. For those of you (probably most!) who don’t know what aerial yoga is – it’s a form of yoga you do hanging from the ceiling – mostly upside down – from silk slings. Yeah I know, sounds a bit full on. Now, for someone who hasn’t really done much yoga at all in my life, jumping straight into doing yoga poses hanging from the ceiling was a bit daunting; not something I’d normally necessarily do.

In fact, a year ago I probably would have said no to my friend as I would have found the concept of aerial yoga a bit too much. Back then I was comfortable where I was and had no need to push myself physically – or otherwise. But I have had some pretty big things happen to me in the past six months which have made me more open to new experiences and taken away a lot of my fear.

So I said yes.

Luckily, before heading to the ‘normal’ classes, you can attend an intro class for first timers where all the tricks on how to hang from the ceiling – and not fall – are taught. So on a Sunday afternoon, as I stood in front of these white silk slings that were hanging from beams in the ceiling, I thought, Wow this is either going to be so much fun, or super awkward and uncomfortable.

Luckily, I absolutely loved it. I loved the physical and mental challenge and the way it made my body feel.

But with my own physical experience aside, what I found probably most fascinating about the intro class was how differently everyone reacted to the concept of trusting the silk slings to hold you up and carry you. When the instructor told us to ‘just jump onto the slings’ or ‘swing yourself upside down’, some in the class just jumped straight into it, whilst others really struggled to overcome their fear and trust the slings and assurances of the yoga teacher.

Interestingly, after the class was over, I overheard a conversation by one the fellow first timers – one of those who had struggled with getting into it. It seemed that her struggle to trust the slings and just jump into it was indicative of her attitude to life in general.

Now, I could be making gross assumptions about this woman based on just a few observations from afar, but it got me thinking about how we all (men and women) allow fear and feelings of awkwardness hold us back. How in so many things, we live in our own little comfort zone. Fear often prevents us from experiencing some of the amazing things in life – like hanging upside down and allowing ourselves to feel totally and utterly weightless. How often do we allow ourselves to have the rush of the blood to our brain give us clarity of thought?

So when I was told to jump out onto the ropes – and I did, just jump out – I realised that I don’t have much fear left in me. I seemed to be one of the people in the class who didn’t have problems with trusting the slings – much like I have learned to trust that life will carry me and that the worst thing about fear is not the things we’re afraid of, but the things that fear prevents us from doing. And that’s the silver lining of big life moments – including and especially the awful, painful moments – you can use them to fear less. If you take them positively, learning and growing from them – you can harness just about anything.

You can become fearless.


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