Posted by: kerryalina | 6 April 2012

Challenge Class 46: Arachnophobia

Focus is difficult when every time there’s a trickle of sweat running down your back, you’re convinced you’re going to die.

Let me explain.

Yesterday, I stepped to the back of my mat for Balancing Stick, took a big step forward, locked my knees, brought my body down… and was suddenly face to face with a FREAKING SPIDER on my mat/towel.  I yelped and backpedalled so fast I all but rebounded off the back wall before I’d had time to blink.

Now, I’m pretty much terrified of spiders, but I don’t suffer from arachnophobia.  This is because arachnophobia is defined as “an abnormal fear of spiders” and here in Australia, where pretty much all the spiders will kill you and/or putrefy your flesh, there is no such thing as an abnormal fear of spiders.  We prefer to call it “healthy self-preservation.”  Seriously, of the top ten most venomous spiders in the world?  Half of them are from Australia.  (Ditto for snakes, btw).  And the most poisonous ones?  Well, their preferred habitat just happens to be around major population centres.  Awesome.

To be fair, I used to have a fairly “live and let live” attitude towards the eight legged freaks.  If they wandered into my path, I’d catch and release them outside.  If they were chilling out on the ceiling, I’d leave them alone.  As long as they don’t bother me, I thought, I won’t bother them.

That was, until, I had three (THREE!) spiders over the course of six months cross the ceiling from one side of the room to the other, wait until they were directly above my head, and then… drop.  And these weren’t just any spiders, oh no.  These were huntsmen.  Huntsmen are probably our most common house and garden spiders here in Melbourne  – they won’t kill you, but their bite is srsly painful and these things are FAST.  They also hunt (duh) rather than making webs, so they’re not stuck in one place.  This is super fun because it means you can come across them pretty much anywhere.  At Christmas, I put down a bottle of sunscreen and picked it up again 30 seconds later only to find one clinging to the back.  And their appearance is… well.  Check this baby out (after the jump, as some people get squicked by spontaneous spider photos):

Hunstman Spider

This is soooooo not my hand.

Stuff of nightmares, amirite?  I’m shuddering after just googling it.  Now imagine sitting at the computer, going about your business, doing some homework, chatting to friends… and all of a sudden this THING is ON YOUR HEAD.

…yeah.  THAT’S why I don’t like spiders.  (Also, any of you who are planning on visiting Australia?  BRING FLYSPRAY).

So back to the story: There was a spider on my mat yesterday.  I bravely ran away and the instructor was kind enough to come to my rescue… kind of.  His method of dealing with the situation?  He flipped the edges of the towel over the spider to bundle it up and placed the bundle on his podium.  Which was all of, oh, TEN CENTIMETRES from my head.  Look, I know we’re doing yoga and it’s bad karma and all, but srsly, it’s a spider.  A spider in AUSTRALIA, which probably means it’s a ridiculously venomous spider.  Just SMOOSH the bloody thing, okay?

I kept staring at the towel throughout the remainder of the standing series, waiting for the spider to emerge.  The start of floor series heralded a whole new wave of anxiety, since the podium was no longer in my direct line of sight.  Thankfully, the teacher took the bundle a few poses later and shook “our little friend” out the window.


He laughed after class about how when he shook the towel, there was nothing there.  Which means the spider is still somewhere in the studio.  Waiting.

And so it was that today I had the joy of learning just how much a trickle of sweat feels like tiny crawling feet, and just how hard that constant sensation makes it to focus on anything other than my imminent and probably extremely painful death.



  1. oh my gosh! that spider is HUGE!!!!
    i would be convinced every trickle of sweat was a spider too.

    • Oh man, that isn’t even a big spider. That’s a regular, everyday normal kind of Aussie spider. THIS is a big spider: Photos taken in a Queensland (North Australia) backyard a couple years ago.

      I can’t imagine why they don’t mention our friendly insect life in the tourism ads!

  2. I tried doing Yoga in my backyard, and I freaked when a lizard came onto my mat. Joys of being one with Nature.

    • Nawwwww, but lizards are cute! Or mostly non-venomous, which is basically the same thing ;) We had a bluetongue lizard ( for non-Aussies) come and hang out in our back yard once when I was a kid, which was kind of cool.

  3. Oooookay. That ginormous spider? I don’t know if I’d ever be able to practice in that room again. I’m all twitchy just *thinking* about it.

  4. This post made me laugh so hard! A couple weeks ago a girl in the back of a yoga class I was in shrieked because there was a spider near her mat and it was the funniest, yet most terrifying thing! Also, a couple days ago I felt something crawling down the back of my neck and it was some kind of nasty looking bug! I was so freaked out and grossed out it took me awhile to focus again!

  5. Hi Kerryalina. I practice in NYC where spiders aren’t much of an issue. I laughed so hard at your description of your terror, I felt guilty for not being more sympathetic. Wow. What a story. As if Bikram isn’t hard enough. Brava! Kay

    • Totally forgiven for laughing! I giggled a bit myself… but only when the class was long over. As for “I practice in NYC where spiders aren’t much of an issue” – I’m jealous! I used to live in Melbourne’s suburbs, where there were spiders EVERYWHERE. My house was full of whitetails. Whitetails also don’t make webs – they hunt at night and like to hide in cosy dark places during the day… which usually means in your bed or piles of clothes. SUPER-FUN :\

      I thought that once I moved to the inner city, there might be less insect life, like… the pollution would kill them all or… something? (My reasoning was a little shaky, obviously). Since this appears not to be the case after all, maybe NYC should be my next stop!

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