There’s been a small plane circling around the neighborhood the last couple of days. While we’re used to small plane traffic (it’s how we keep track of who’s coming and going), this plane has been circling, circling and circling some more. Turns out it’s being flown by student pilots using the nearby strip for landing and take-off practice, otherwise known as touch and go’s.
After months of preparation, imagine the pilot’s sensation as the plane leaves the earth, banks and soars over turquoise water. Soloing, perhaps for the first time, she'd be scanning her instruments, accepting cues and encouragement from her instructor on the ground. I wonder if anyone reminds her to breathe.
Pincha Mayurasana, elbow balance, is like handstand on the forearms. Those who include it as part of their yoga practice enjoy the freedom of full body expression that inversions offer. It’s like flying. But I don’t know anyone who climbs into their body, starts the engine, accelerates down the runway and gets airborne the first time. Instead there’s groundwork: building strength, gaining confidence, getting used to seeing all the living room furniture upside-down.
These days, I’m practicing Pincha touch and go’s—sometimes airborne, sometimes returning for more groundwork before going wheels up again. It’s been important to release the idea that learning elbow balance, or any other pose, is a linear process. That only by allowing the practice to be a fluid, respectful body-mind partnership will it soar, free of expectation.
Then, unlike the student pilot, I can fly without leaving the ground.