Everyone who practices yoga has that one pose that they can’t quite do right. We’re all built differently, we have different aches and pains brought on by our lifestyle, age, genetics. But sometimes the pose has nothing to do with any of these — it’s just something we’re flat out scared to try.
Mine, from the first time I saw my teacher do it, is the Vitruvian. Although it’s after Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” drawing, it’s not as simple as standing up and spreading your limbs. I’m not genetically predisposed to failing at it, although I knew when I saw someone do it that it’s something that would be difficult for me to do.
First of all, there is that split. I’ve never done a split in my life. And this is a mid-air split — one supported by the hammock around the thighs. The hammock-on-thighs is another problem: it hurts like hell. And then there’s the fact that you have to climb up on yourself while hanging upside down to get to the pose. So much shit to consider. What if I fall? What if I can’t hold the pose? What if my legs get ripped from my body and I’m left hanging there, half a person, like that woman from The Walking Dead?
Sometime into my first month of practice, I accidentally signed up for aerial yoga instead of anti-gravity. Aerial is like level 2, where there’s an actual flow, and well, more poses in the air. The teacher just went right into the pose and then asked us to do it. She did it so quickly and effortlessly, whereas I, needed to be hoisted from my inversion to be able to do the aerial split. All my yoga pants were in the laundry, so I was wearing sweat pants. Big mistake. The hammock dug into my pants and my pants, rough and thick, caused friction against the skin. My back and core were not as strong then, so all the weight went to my thighs, which is the worst thing that could happen. I never tried to do a Vitruvian again, until last week.
The class was over, and my favorite teacher Sam, joking around, climbed up the hammock and did it. All of us, ready to head out with our bags, shared knowing looks that said, “What the heck,” and went for it.
Maybe it was the guilt from the 17-dish Chinese lunch I had that day, or the stress from not having done any Christmas gift shopping yet, or the fact that I was sad and at the same time angry over so many things, but I was able to do it. Clumsily, but still. There was no pain, my legs were almost straight, and I was able to hold the pose long enough to have a photo taken.
“Try not to look like you’re in pain,” yelled our singular male classmate.
So I smiled for the camera. It was such a fake smile. Much like the one I flash when someone reminds me about my frantically ticking biological clock.
Now how do I get down from here?