Over the past 6 months of practicing yoga, my reaction to crow pose has been consistent: “Oh hell no!” I’ve watched my crowing classmates in amazement – professional contortion artists disguised in Lululemon gear?!
The position requires upper-body strength I don’t possess (in the arms, forearms, elbow joints, hands, wrists, clavicle and scapula). I can’t even do the monkey bars. It also takes hip flexibility. I’m a runner = inflexible.
Failure looms large in crow pose. To take flight – you must lean forward face-first… But not too far or you’ll topple forward. Also, FACE-FIRST.
Suddenly, I found my right leg lifted, then my left. For about half a second.
“Strange,” I thought. I tried again and found myself air-borne a bit longer.
Next time, I counted to 5, thinking “OMG, I’m doing it. OMG, I’m still doing it?”
The distance between my body and the ground felt infinite (even if it was less than a foot). “I could stay here all day,” I thought. I felt as peaceful as a lotus flower floating over a pond.
Soon, my balance shifted and I returned back to all-fours.
Class moved on, I smiled widely and tears welled in my eyes. The dichotomy of being a yogi with narcolepsy struck me more than ever.
People often ask if yoga improves my narcolepsy. In my experience, yoga does not directly affect my symptoms. Instead yoga gives me a much greater gift.
My body is paralyzed at times (a narcolepsy symptom called cataplexy). As a result, I’ve burnt myself with hot tea, I’ve dropped things, I’ve stumbled and I’ve fallen. Medication improves this, but doesn’t erase it.
As you might imagine, the fear of falling is almost worse than the actual falling. I’ve respected my hesitations in yoga class, but ever so slowly and without realizing it, I’ve found trust in new places.
I never imagined that I’d hold this body in my arms. Now, I can’t imagine a day without taking flight.