Friday, July 31, 2009

Capoeira and Handstands and Fear

Once again, I'm standing about a meter in front of the wall, facing it. I'll want to push off with my left foot and kick up with my right foot. I step my left foot forward as I place my hands on the floor, then flex my left knee a little bit more while my right leg stays straight. I push off with my left foot and try, again, to kick my legs up to the wall.

I don't even come close, and both feet drop back to the floor with a thump.

Last week I went to my first Capoeira class. On the way there I joked to Ken that if I wasn't upside down by the end of class, I wasn't going back.

Midway through the (level zero) class, we were practicing handstands and cartwheels. I've never done either.

In yoga, I've done headstands, but never a handstand. I even took a handstand class a few years ago. Apparently I loved it, but I never managed to fully invert.

Every year, about a month before my birthday, I resolve that this year! Before this birthday! I will do a cartwheel. And a handstand! If my feet are all the way up there, why not?

With the exception of a handful of 90-minute classes three years ago, I've never actively tried to achieve this goal. I've gone to yoga classes and done the preparation (mat against the wall, Downward-Facing Dog, walk feet in) and then after a few half-hearted kicks I've rested in Child's Pose, satisified with my "effort".

But now, thanks to these intensely challenging Capoeira classes, I'm trying more sincerely than I ever have, and in trying I've realized that I am almost paralyzed with fear. When the instructor tells us that we'll be practicing an inversion my heart beats loudly in my chest. As I watch my classmates effortlessly step into handstands and turn perfect cartwheels, my breath shortens and I feel a lump in my throat and the words "I can't I can't I can't" repeat so loudly in my head that I'm sure everyone else can hear them, too.

In those moments, I don't want to be there. Sometimes I try to be optimistic, telling the teacher that I can't do that exact move quite yet, and he has given me alternatives to practice, and I do, and survive. Other times, I whisper, "I hate this."

I don't know where this fear comes from, and anyway, it probably doesn't matter. I do know that at the end of every class I've felt stronger, and grateful for the experience. I also know that I'll keep going back.

And maybe this will be the year that I can.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

I absolutely share this same fear (and inability to do handstands and cartwheels). I think, for me, part of it comes from not being able to do this thing that all the other girls could do, seemingly effortlessly. Let us know how you do! I'm rooting for you!