“I…can’t…do…it!”  I stuttered between my staccato, darth vada breaths.  Thighs trembling as I pressed them around my triceps, right foot hooked over the left, pointed toes cramping as they hovered just above the mat…trying to tip myself forward…

“Tuck your chin into your chest.  Thighs and bandhas tight!”

“I can’t do it!”  as I burst out of this compacted shape and fell onto my back, arms and legs splayed out.

Crouched beside me, my teacher waited kindly for me to catch my breath.  I gathered myself together and sat up to shake out my wrists.

“What is it?”  She asked me.  “Is it emotional…is it fear?”

I didn’t have to think for long.  “It’s fear.”  I’m scared that I’m going to plummet head first into the ground and break my nose.  Memories of that New Years Eve a couple of years back – before I’d considered the whole yoga as an ego-less practice – came flooding back.  A demonstration gone awry due to inappropriate clothing, one too many glasses of wine, and the egotistical desire to impress.  The horrified faces of my friends as blood splattered across the living room walls, kitchen floors and counters as I rushed about in a mad panic trying to stop the blood.

Bhujapadasana is a complicated pose that I tampered with a while back, then put back in the storage cupboard until the end of last week, whence it became the pinnacle posture of my practice once again.

The final asana of one’s particular sequence, despite our most conscious intentions, always acquires a sense of gravitas.  You approach it with mounting trepidation, fear, and excitement.

“That’s a very real fear…”  The reason we tuck our chins into our chests is so that if we fall we land on the tops of our heads – which, albeit slightly painful, should minimise the risk of cracked bones, or bloodied faces.  She’ll be watching over me, holding my shoulders if I start to fall…I will probably, most definitely fall – but I won’t hurt myself.

“Ok”  I nodded and smiled.  Next time,  next time.  Today – I was done.  The entire practice was, despite the finale, more fluid and light.  I can feel a lift in my hips when I jump back that wasn’t there before.  A hollowness in my stomach, a lift from the base of my spine, an extra burst of energy that upsets my balance as I jump (generous term) through.  It’s a wonderful feeling when things start to come together, when you start to notice these subtle improvements/changes.  A leg extends just a little bit straighter than normal, your fingers caress the wrist in a bind, that painful cramp in the right hip is shifting into a pleasing stretch.  None of which will ever be taken for granted, because you never know what the next day will be like, or the day after that – but you do know that in that particular moment you are capable of doing something that you’ve never done before.

Except, of course, for that final asana.  There are still lessons to be learnt, demons to face, limitations to test and push against…fears to overcome.

For me, Bhujapadasana isn’t just about flexibility, balance and strength…its about surrendering.  As I tip forwards, I lose control.  I venture into a posture I’ve never been before, and I’m afraid of falling.  I’m afraid of hurting myself.  But I know that if I have faith and trust, and let myself go –  I can do this.

Maybe not quite so well as Matthew, but you get the idea…

Matthew - Bhujapadasana