Do you have certain poses in your yoga practice that you avoid because you dislike it, or you fear practicing it because you are not used to the sensation of the poses? Do you have poses that you avoid as much as possible and are considered your Achilles’ heel?

It’s totally normal to have certain poses in your practice that you avoid as much as you can. It can be backbends, arm balances, or inversions. Sometimes, they in turn become your vulnerabilities in your practice simply because we don’t practice them.

Of course, it is totally up to your prerogative to not have it in your practice altogether if you do not want to practice them for any reason. However, if it’s something that you wish to overcome, perhaps it’s time to start undressing your fear for a certain asana, push past your comfort zone, and start practicing them.

Personally, inversions has always been a huge fear of mine in my yoga practice. It goes beyond the fear of falling to this mental block that I can’t seem to overcome. Eventually, I knew that it was starting to hinder my yoga progress, and I knew that it is time for me to confront my fears and start working on my vulnerabilities.

Here are some tips for you to start undressing your fear and work past your comfort zone on your yoga mat:

1. Acknowledge your fears

Sometimes we have the tendency to avoid what we fear. Therefore, the first step to undress our fears is often to acknowledge it, and to admit that we have our vulnerabilities and weaknesses in life and in our yoga practice. When we are able to admit that we are afraid to do an inversion, do an arm balance, or to fall out of a pose, that’s the first step that we can take in order to eventually eliminate our fears altogether.

Write them down in a piece of paper, put them in a mood board or inspiration board, pen them down in a post-it and paste them somewhere that you will see them every day. Only when we are able to accept our fears and vulnerabilities as a fact of life, that’s when we are able to move towards breaking down the mental barrier.

2. Plan on how to overcome your fears (and know that sometimes things won’t go as planned)

After we are able to acknowledge our fears and weaknesses, the next step would be to come up with a plan to overcome these fears. For instance, I made a personal promise to practice inversions in my daily practice, no matter how much I dread it, so that I can eventually make progress on my inversions. Similarly, if you have been putting off practicing your backbends and arm balances, it’s time to start incorporating gentle routines into your yoga practice and increase in intensity gradually. Write down your little victories, progress, and even set backs.

Always remember that things do not always go as smoothly. Some days you may make progress, and some days you may not be feeling the particular asana. Most importantly, accept your body’s abilities and limitations as it is and work with it, not against it. Listen to your body and do not push yourself too hard such that you hurt yourself.

3. Be disciplined and stick to your plans

There will be days where you totally dread that specific routine or that specific asana. On some days, sheer motivation can only get your this far. Sometimes we all need a little discipline to push through days when we are just feeling lazy or when we are simply unwilling to do that asana that we do not enjoy. Instead of critiquing yourself on having days like these, try using lots of positive self-talk and encouragement to keep yourself going. Such positive self-talk can help you break down the mental barrier and fear that you have towards the asana or routine.

 

And what will you get out of pushing past your fears?

1. Progress! (Physical and/or mental)

Of course, we achieve progress! Personally, I haven’t been able to practice my inversions consistently, but after making that personal promise to myself (and sticking to it), I am already seeing improvements in my headstands.

Not only that, by confronting my own fears and working with my fears, I get to learn a lot more about myself and my own limitations, and ultimately, it’s the mind that limit us and sets our comfort zone. If we are able to push through the mental barrier and the negative self-talk that has been holding us back, that’s when we can understand our bodies’ abilities and limitations even more!

2. Acceptance of your vulnerabilities

I always say that it is important to have a playful attitude to our yoga practice, because it is so important to just have fun and laugh at ourselves and not take things too seriously. When we confront and undress our fears, that’s when we are able to accept our own vulnerabilities, and laugh along whenever we fall out of a pose, or when we don’t look all that graceful in a certain pose. Only then will we be able to accept our own vulnerabilities, and continue to love ourselves for who we are, and what we are not.

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