"Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will" - Suzy Kassem
Back in February, when I started lyra at Pole and Aerial Divas Caroline Springs, there was a little voice in the back of my head that said, 'Jewels, what are you doing?!'
The voice's problem: I am terrified of heights and don't like being in/on anything that moves fast, goes upside down, or spins.
Lyras are high, they spin, they bounce, they go pretty damn fast if you kick off too hard and, by necessity, to mount a lyra and do any tricks in the actual hoop, you have to go upside down.
Maybe that little voice had a point!
Nevertheless, I went to class.
Weeks one and two of Beginner Lyra were not so scary, all the tricks were spins done under the hoop, and the few upside down tricks we did were similar enough to pole tricks that I felt confident and able to do them, and I never had to let go with my hands.
Lyra and pole straddles side by side for comparison purposes. We do learn to straddle in Beginner Lyra, but it's not graded (it does from part of the graded syllabus for Intermediate Lyra); in pole, you need to be able to straddle without your feet touching the pole and slide all the way to the floor holding the position to be able to pass Beginner Static. The position is similar enough that I felt confident doing it in lyra, despite being upside down on a swinging, spinning apparatus.
Then along came week three! To everyone's excitement, our instructor announced that, from now on, we would be doing tricks in the hoop. I thought this sounded fun, although did wonder, with a little uneasy squirm of my stomach, how we were supposed to get up into the hoop, given how high it is off the ground. At least with a pole, you know that, to get to the top, you have to climb it, and most tricks can be done at ground level until you're ready to take them aerially. But I could see no way to climb the lyra and then the instructor said 'Watch here, this is how we mount'.
It consisted of hanging upside down and using pure momentum to kick yourself up into the lyra, briefly letting go with your hands on each kick to slide them higher.
I was quite ready to nope on out of there!
Single Knee Mount example. I can now execute this move confidently (but still working on keeping my legs straight and toes pointed), although it terrified the hell out of me when I first learned it! Video: My own.
For pretty much my entire first term of lyra I did all the tricks, every single one of them, in a lowered hoop that I could step into, unless we were spinning underneath the hoop. I was too afraid to mount, and the rare occasions I did try and managed to get into the hoop, I tended to freeze once I was up there and it would take my instructor several minutes to coax me down, and assure me that I was very unlikely to fall, because all my grips were correct and, as long as I didn't let go (which was not going to happen in a million years, I tell you!), I would be fine.
By the end of term one I could mount, but my fear had progressed by then to a trick called 'Lady in the Moon' (ironically, this is now one of my favourite tricks from Beginners and I think it just looks so pretty - I'm doing it in the picture on the page header). What terrified me about Lady in the Moon was two things: 1) you have to hook one leg around the hoop, which means lifting and turning your body slightly to get your leg through to the other side, and 2) to do it properly you have to take your hands off! You hook with one elbow and let the other hand hang down. It was this trick that held me back in Beginners, as I could not confidently transition into it without my instructor talking me through it step by step, although the rest of the combo was fun and I could move through the tricks easily.
Due to the demands of Pole Addiction, I couldn't do lyra in Term 2, however I came back in Term 3 with the hope of passing Beginners by the end of the year.
And then, within the eight week term, I had done it.
Nothing had changed: the course syllabus was still the same, the tricks were still the same, the hoops were still (terrifyingly) high, and yet I felt like a new woman.
However, despite loving Term 3 and accepting that I had passed, I really, really, really did not want to go up to Intermediate.
My reason: I remembered what it felt like to go from Beginner to Intermediate in pole and I didn't like the thought of making that massive jump (think leaping over a 50-foot-wide chasm filled with lava and inhabited by lava-resistant, man-eating piranhas) in hoop. It wasn't so much the thought of learning new tricks that frightened me, but the fact that many of these tricks would involve position in the hoop that were not conducive to hanging on with my hands and, despite all my success in Beginners, I still don't like positions where I'm expected to go 'hands off' in a hoop.
On a pole? Sure, I'll hang upside down by my legs with my arms, I'll even hang with just one leg: Ballerina is one of my favourite shapes on a pole. But there is something about not holding on in hoop that just makes it terrifying for me.
'Man in the Moon', as shown in the photo above, is a trick from the intermediate lyra syllabus at Aerial Divas, and involves not only letting go with the hands (although I was not able to do that bar for a few seconds in the low hoop last night), but also relies on gripping with the soles of the feet and pressing the shoulder blades into the back of the hoop for dear life. It terrified me the way 'Lady in the Moon' did during Beginners, yet something must have changed, because instead of refusing to try it (like I did initially with Lady in the Moon and other tricks from Beginners I was afraid of), I just hopped out of my high hoop, went over to the low hoop and took my time with it, moving at my own pace.
Perhaps I'm getting braver, perhaps I'm getting stronger, or perhaps I'm just more aware that there is a difference between something I actually, physically can't do, something I can learn to do, and something I am afraid to do. I am afraid of heights, and afraid of falling out of the hoop, but there's no trick in the syllabus that I can't do - I just have to learn them first.
This quote really sums it up for me. If I continue to water my fear, I will keep being afraid; if I water my desire to learn, I will surpass the fear.
If you're afraid to fall it means you're prepared to brave the heights from which you might fly.
Me With No Apologies.