Balancing on the hands or on the head can be a tricky thing. In crow pose, headstand, handstand… the fear of falling is REAL and can be so paralyzing that it prevents you from doing any progress.
Some people have spent their childhood tumbling around and don’t really experience fear in this setting. I’m not one of them 😄
So how to overcome the fear of falling? I’ve heard teachers say “If you’re scared of falling, just let yourself fall repeatedly, so that your mind understands that it’s not actually dangerous.” If like me, your fear is so strong that even reading these words sends a chill down your spine, you won’t find that advice very helpful.
Here is what I find works for me
- Practice, practice, practice. Do what scares you as often as possible, so that you replace fear with familiarity.
- Be clever about what you practice. Work on your foundations first and stay in your comfort zone until your comfort zone feels boring. Boring is what we’re aiming for. Boring is not scary! Take baby steps, but take them EVERY DAY. If you practice a little bit every day, you will make more progress than if you do it for one hour every three weeks.
I’ll take handstands as an example.
Using momentum to jump into a posture is what scares me the most, because I feel like I have no control, my shoulders will collapse and I’m going to break my neck on the way down.
So for months, I worked on my foundations: shoulder and core strength, and positioning of the hands and shoulders. I also worked on doing “baby jumps”, barely leaving the floor at first. Only jumping as high as felt comfortable. When baby jumps felt boring, I started jumping a little higher, and higher… All the while building strength in the shoulders and good technique.
I want to learn how to fall eventually, but in the meantime, my technique is to fight fear with strength and confidence.
What about using the wall?
Some teachers recommend using the wall, others don’t. Personally, I use it a lot but there are a few things you should consider:
- Falling on the wall can actually hurt you more than if it wasn’t there. When you fall, your reflexes will try to save you, whether the wall is there or not. Which means that if you fall against the wall, you might end up in a weird, crooked position. The one time I really hurt myself when falling out of a headstand was because I fell against the wall and my neck got twisted. Whereas if you are in the middle of the room and fall out of a bound headstand, you’ll just instinctively tuck your chin and roll.
- Using the wall as a crutch can prevent your progress if you just fall against it every time. A handstand technique that’s not very effective is jumping, landing the feet on the wall and then trying to take the feet off the wall to balance. You’ll work on strength and alignment, but you won’t learn to “catch” yourself mid-air. Personally, I try to always jump as if the wall wasn’t there, and only use the wall if I used too much momentum.
With that said, I use the wall all the time because simply knowing it’s there to catch me allows me to have the confidence to jump higher. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you are fully aware of the pros and cons, and you’ll be good to go!
Are you scared of falling too? What are your techniques to overcome this fear?
If you want to work on building strength and confidence with me, join my “Get Strong!” classes! We meet twice a week, but you can get access to the recording of the classes to do them in your own time :)