By P.J. Stuart Thank goodness for Pranayama breathing … or I may not have kept my cool.
Standing on top of the world’s tenth tallest structure – the Macau Tower in Macau, China – I could feel small beads of sweat running down the small of my back, quickly mounting in succession.
My palms were clammy and my heart rate increasing, while I tried to suppress the nausea I felt as I peered over the edge. I was about to surrender myself to a dizzying sensation, as I prepared to plummet down the side of this 1,109 foot building, with a bungy cord attached to my legs.
It’s no big deal if you’re skydiver Felix Baumgartner, who broke the sound barrier this month during his record-setting jump from the edge of space. Peanuts to him, perhaps. But in my world, this was a much feared item on my “bucket list,” and one I stubbornly pursued despite the naysaying voices in my head telling me to hold back.
In fact, that’s precisely where I can credit my Bikram Yoga practice for pushing me through. Ignoring those pesky voices and continuing to breathe, despite my discomfort.
Forget locking my knees. They shook and trembled, while staff members on the tower clipped me into a harness. I inhaled deeply through the nose … releasing a steady exhale through my mouth. Again and again, as the seconds leading up to my “plunge” ticked by slowly.
Then that familiar feeling came. The one where you need to make the decision – are you gonna do it or not? Grab your foot for standing head to knee and get in, no hesitation? Step into balancing stick pose quickly or let those ten seconds pass you by? Unfurl yourself into a camel pose or timidly stay seated on your mat?
I guess I could have turned around. But I’d come this far. My heart rate was up, and, though it wasn’t pleasant – I knew I could sustain myself through the anxiety and prevail. All those hours in the torture chamber had prepared me for this.
Three, two, one … and I was flying. Lost my breath for a moment in exchange for a death-defying scream, one I didn’t’ know I had inside of me. And then, once I got used to the unfamiliar feeling – pure joy. Laughter. Giggles, even. A beautiful release, despite the suffering I went through to get there. Sound familiar?
It’s just another reminder – it’s never as bad as we make it out to be in our tricky little minds.