"Fear lives in us as tension, and asana postures are designed to release tension from our bodies. The absence of tension is the absence of fear. And the absence of fear signifies the presence of joy, love and open-heartedness." ~ Myths of the Asanas
Back in 2000, a few months after my nephew was born I used to dream that I would drop him from a fourth floor balcony and I watch him fall. Needless to say, this led me to develop a fear of heights (acrophobia). Growing up, I used to love high places and the sense of adventure they would bring along. But those recurring dreams established in me this new fear. A few years after this happened, I started practicing yoga and I guess only now I'm able to make the connection between yoga and how I dealt with acrophobia. Here is how I connect fears in general with yoga.
Face my fears. There are some pretty scary poses in yoga, for example inversions and arm balances. For me, crow pose is a particularly challenging pose, as I can see myself falling face down so easily. But I have been working hard, with time and dedication and so I'm able to find a balance within me to do some of those poses safely. It's still frightening though, but I don't run away from them. When it comes to acrophobia, I decided I wanted that to have a minimal interference in my life. I would not stop doing anything because I was afraid of high places. So I visited high located castles, I went on roller coasters and other high merry-go-rounds. Don't get me wrong, it was scary, it still is; once I'm there I think how that was a terrible idea and all I want is to go back down. But I don't, because I also want to enjoy life, so I breath and like I do in yoga, I try to find my balance. The same way my yoga poses are not "perfect", I may not take in the entire view, or I may scream my lungs out riding a roller coaster, but in the end I feel happy that I went for it and I do end up having fun.
The ability to accept where I am. It is often said that yoga meets you wherever you are, and this can be applied to any fear we have. Instead of fighting and blaming yourself for not being flexible enough, or not being able to look down, accept that that's just the way you are at this moment. I have to do that a lot. When I reach a really high spot and can't look down, I just accept it. OK, I can't look all the down right now, that's fine, I'm just going to take a deep breath and try again and if I still can't do it, that's perfectly fine too. Yoga has taught me that whatever it is that you can accomplish is perfect. And I believe that is true because what you do and how you do it is so unique that it can't be anything but perfect. No other person can do it or feel it that way. Accepting our fears and imperfections is a huge step towards accepting who we are.
Fall and rise up. When we fail we shouldn't fear that experience or be afraid of trying it again. We should learn from it, understand what went wrong and try to work our way from fear into acceptance and eventually into accomplishment. I could just avoid high locations, but if I did that I would miss out on amazing views of the world and honestly I'm not willing to do that. There's so much life to be lived out there. I have always known where my fear of heights came from and I believe that has helped me a lot throughout the years. I know it is an irrational fear, because it's based on something unreal. If we understand why we fear something, we can indentify the source of that fear and beat it.
So ask yourself: how do you wish to live? Yoga can teach you so much about the things you fear the most. Just give it a chance and practice some bravery and open-heartedness. Your entire self will thank you.