Well, hate is probably a strong word. Let’s say that I strongly disliked bridge pose and would love to avoid it, when and if possible, during a yoga session. Yes, the bridge pose has many benefits–it strengthens your back, your butt, and your legs. It’s great for your neck, your chest, your hips, and your spine. It improves circulation of the blood. It aids with digestion. It’s said to calm your nerves and alleviate stress. Yet, it is one of the asanas in yoga that I do not look forward to. It’s a heart opening pose, which means that both physically and emotionally, you’re opening yourself up. You’re opening your heart to others and to the world. It can also symbolize being a “bridge” from yourself to others and to the world–building connections in your relationships. Not only is the pose sometimes physically challenging for me, but emotionally and spiritually, I’ve come to realize that there are even deeper reasons for my disdain.
Taking care of others. Being responsible for others. Just being there for others. My identity has been wrapped up in being the strong one, the reliable one, the one you can depend on. I grew up the oldest child so I come by this honest. But, being the big sister who is a caretaker and nurturer, I have a hard time trusting that I can depend on others. So I’ve learned to take care of myself–I’m hyper independent. Always feeling responsible is exhausting. Not surprisingly, my expression in bridge pose is often one of exhaustion and weakness and not of strength or confidence. While I may not like to admit it, I’m tired of being the bridge. But, letting go and trusting that others can have my back sometimes is not easy for me.
Yesterday in my yoga teacher training, we did an activity that was all about building trust and depending on others. In this activity, I stood in the middle of my group with my feet together, arms crossed, and my eyes closed. I was instructed to fall back and allow myself to be passed between my four group members. As I fell back and leaned from side to side, my group members were responsible for catching me and making sure that I did not fall. I knew from the beginning that I was going to have difficulty with this activity–you’re asking me to close my eyes, fall back, and trust that these folks won’t drop me? Oh hell no! is what I was really thinking. Now, I am the person that you want on the outside of the circle–I will not let anybody fall. But, trusting that others will do the same for me has been my challenge. As I began being passed between my group members, I was quite stiff and nervous. I could not relax and let go. At one point, one of my group members paused the passing, held me, and said, “Relax. We got you.” And, in that moment, I did just that–I relaxed and trusted that my group had my back, literally. My group members said that my body began to feel much lighter, and I was passed between them with ease and speed. After the activity, I had to work to hold back my tears. I was struck by how someone’s simple affirmation of “I got your back” calmed and relaxed me. And, I was also overcome by my willingness to trust that they would.
I’m learning to trust that others can have my back. As I continue to give to the world and to others, I witness how the love and support is returned. The bridge is not one-way but it is reciprocal. I look forward to practicing bridge pose now because I have a new outlook on it. Being a bridge is my gift to the world. It is my way of showing how much I love and care about others. But, the bridge also needs to be strong so that I can receive the gifts that so many have for me. I no longer hate the bridge pose. Instead, because of it, I am so grateful.