Yoga Techniques for Falling Without Fear

It’s a rational fear, the fear of falling: scaling the edge of a cliff, bouldering a wall-free solo. That stomach-dropping feeling is normal for a human with a functioning amygdala (the part of the brain that processes fear). So you’re not alone in yoga if you get scared when you have two hands on the ground and no feet. When we practice arm balances and inversions, our neck feels (and is) in a vulnerable spot. It’s an ingrained instinct to want to protect an exposed neck and back for fear of breaking or hurting something.

Arm balances and inversions can be a lot of fun. You can do arm balances and other inversions with no fear of falling. In an ideal yoga world, one would fall back to the place where they started. We are all pretty familiar with the motion of leaving the pose in the same manner as we entered. We know this is not always the case on the mat. There are several ways to get out of a pose that is pushing you beyond your comfort zone, such as an arm balance or an inversion. Here are some tips on how to fall without fear in yoga.

See-saw legs

Start by spreading your legs out in a “L” or see-saw shape so that the top portion reaches up to the sky and the bottom leg remains close to the floor. The bottom portion should be as close to the floor as possible when you are practicing. This will make you feel more secure. You only need to push off your back leg with a little force (but lots of core strength!) in order to lift your feet. Keep your bottom leg as close to the floor as possible. This will allow you to return down safely.

Cartwheel out

Cartwheel to the direction you feel yourself falling. If you’re failing to the left, you can step your left arm or hand out to the left and push yourself to the right. Then, cartwheel to get out of this pose. This method is more effective than kicking your legs and flailing them.

Practice with a Partner

Reach one leg upwards and place the other foot in your friend’s hands. Your partner can guide the foot to meet the other leg eventually. You may feel more secure if you have someone nearby, even if they are not watching you.

Falling on something deliberately

You will feel less fear if you practice going over your heads. The ground isn’t as far as you may think, even though we would prefer to prevent this from ever happening. Allow one foot to reach a raised platform (a couch, sofa, or pads) in front of your body. Note that I said “allowing “…. We’re not losing control and kicking over here. As time goes on, make the platform smaller and smaller.

Inversions can be learned without falling! Please do not force it. You are more likely to lose if you struggle and kick harder. Find the right balance between comfort and challenge. It’s not about being perfect, but rather a practice. You may need to practice inversions for years before you reach your goals. Enjoy the journey and surrender to the current stage of the process.

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