You walk into the classroom and gently touch one of the hammocks. The room is bright and welcoming, and you're a mix of emotions - nervous, excited, curious. You choose your place and follow the teacher's instructions to make sure your hammock is the right height. Your neighbor asks if it's your first class - in response to your nod she says "ooh exciting! I was here last week, it's so fun!" and gives you a bright smile.
You learn to sit in the hammock, swinging gently a few feet off the floor. It's not unlike being on a swing and you feel a little more calm as you close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. You choose to be courageous today - to go where the practice will take you and hope you don't fall on your head.
And you're off - warriors, chair pose, twists, and side bends. The hammock is strong and supportive and you get a little more comfortable with each pose. Then comes downward facing dog - hips high over the fabric and an incredible release along your spine. You carefully take your feet off the mat and then gently release your hands. You're suspended! This is amazing! Your neighbor looks over at you with a huge grin as she stretches her arms above her head.
You stand on the hammock and somehow get into tree pose 3 feet off the floor - this brings a whole new meaning to balance. As you step down, a guy at the front of the class gracefully jumps through the fabric - you try but can't manage to get your feet high enough. Maybe next week.
The teacher is demonstrating something up-side-down and backwards. Uh-oh. Your fear of falling rears her ugly head and your heart starts beating a little faster. The careful, measured part of you tells you to sit this one out. It's not for you. You can't.
But you can. You reach up for the hammock, lean back, and your legs catch around the fabric. Now you're supposed to let go... ok right hand. Can I stop here?
One big breath. Left hand.
Your face hurts from smiling. Your back feels incredible. You reach your legs wide and are pretty sure this is the happiest you've been on a Tuesday night in a long time. You breathe, laugh, and wave at your neighbor, who looks like she's in zero gravity. Someone reaches for their feet. You're happy to float here, probably forever.
As you curl up in your hammock for a suspended savasana, you're ready to sleep like a baby. The gentle rocking almost puts you to sleep but then it's time to stretch, sit up, and come back to reality. Somehow, something is just a little different. You decide to take your courage out of the hammock with you and ask for that promotion. Or call up an old friend. Or book a last-minute vacation.
And a little part of you already knows, this practice is transformative. You feel it the next day - you stand a little taller, breathe a little easier. The gentle soreness in your abs and arms signals new strength. So you return next week, and when you see the nervous look on your neighbor's face you flash him a smile and say - "Last week was my first class - you'll love it!" You take a deep breath, and off you go.