Stretching our backs and barriers

February 9, 2018 — by Francesca Chu and Alexandra Li

Francesca: When we were challenged to do partner’s yoga, we didn’t think it would be that hard.  We had seen other people do a lot of these poses, and we hoped that our dance background would help make moves like handstands and backbends more manageable. So we planned to meet for a couple hours over the weekend at Alexandra’s house, got our matching outfits, and set our minds to it.

But as we got ready, I became nervous. This was the first time I was really going to try to do yoga and not joke around, and I realized that I really had no idea what to expect. Also, there wasn’t enough space to feel fully comfortable — we were in the corner of the living room next to a lamp, desk, sofa and Christmas tree — and the probability of falling over and breaking something was very high. Thankfully, we were smart enough to ask our friend junior Amy Tang to help us out.

Alexandra: My first test of trust really came with the rectangle pose. Not only did I have to trust myself to have enough back strength to maintain the pose, but I also had to trust Amy to place Francesca’s legs into my hands, and trust Francesca to shift her weight away from me. Without Amy’s help, we managed to hold the pose for a millisecond. Giving up, I dropped my arms and laid down, forgetting momentarily that I had a person on my back as Francesca went hurtling for the wall. Thankfully, nobody got hurt. Sure, Francesca’s hands may not have been in the right place, but close enough, right?

Francesca: By the time we got to the upside-down flyer pose, I felt like I was pretty experienced in the world of yoga. We had gotten this far without getting hurt or dying so I figured we would be fine. I was wrong. At first it was straightforward; I’d already done several handstands and this one was no different.

All I had to do now was lift myself off the floor and pray that Alexandra could lean back far enough to counterbalance my weight so I wouldn’t fall on my head and lose all my brain cells. Amy had been supporting my upper body, and I had a moment of faith right before she let go and my head was on the ground. Seven tries later, my head was still on the ground. I had been upside down for too long and my head was starting to hurt.

Alexandra: The rest of the poses weren’t too eventful. The first few were fairly easy, and then it became difficult, because they required too much counterbalance and strength. Exhausted and not feeling relaxed like yoga is supposed to make us feel, we decided that the eight poses we had attempted were all we could manage for the day.

Maybe yoga is not our strongest talent. But looking back, some of the poses probably could have been improved if I had only trusted Francesca enough to believe that she had the ability to her complete her side of the pose. From now on, I think she’s earned most of my trust.

Even though we should have had a sense of balance and flexibility from our years of dancing, we developed a newfound respect for yoga masters.

 

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