I recently had the opportunity to do some exploring in New Zealand, and stopped to practice yoga up above the forest canopy.
Here, I'm doing vrkasana (tree pose), in the treetops.
Part of the tour also included ziplining from platform to platform, up to about 50 kmh!
Having a dislike of heights, I really had to call on my yoga practice to help calm my beating heart before I stepped off that first platform. I thought about what I am often telling my students: if you need to calm down , focus on your breath, and develop a smooth easy exhalation.
So, there I was, hundreds of feet up. Breathing. As I relaxed, I heard the birds all around me. I noticed the shadows and light. I looked around and there were tree tops below me, above and all around me. I was in the forest canopy!
As it came to my turn, I shuffled toward the edge of the platform. The steps led into thin air. I wanted to turn around and crawl down them like a baby. But, everyone else had seemed to manage to walk down like a normal adult. So, I took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and stepped down until I felt my weight come into the safety harness. Then, I stepped off the platform.
I'm not sure if I actually breathed on that first short zip, but later on, as we zipped along longer and longer lines, I made a point to take a deep breath, look around and enjoy the view.
And, all too soon it was over. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to experience the forest in such a unique and exciting way. And mostly, I'm grateful to my yoga practice that allowed me to relax and enjoy the moment, without letting fear become my focus.
I've learned that I don't get braver sitting on my couch, or even by meditating or practicing yoga for hours a day. I gain courage by stepping outside my comfort zone (physically, mentally or emotionally), and applying the tools of yoga to bring ease and awareness to that situation. Do something every day that scares you!