Yoga Handstand Series
“And as my mind begins to spread its wings
There’s no stopping curiosity
I want to turn the whole thing upside down
I’ll find the things they say just can’t be found” –Jack Johnson “upside down”
It’s a New Year and I am all about trying new challenges, and pushing my personal boundaries so that I may grow as a person. I wanted to start with an obtainable goal, but something that I would have to work at to achieve.
I have always admired gymnasts. As a child I hoped and dreamed that I would be able to do flips, acrobats, somersaults, handstands, and cartwheels. I would spend hours trying, but to no avail. My sister Laura and I would do what we called “underdog flips” We would run super fast, tuck our heads in, flip and land on our backs. I remember feeling like a rock star when I did an underdog flip. Oh how silly we must have looked.
For Christmas one year I asked for full gymnastic regalia. I wanted a leotard, tights, headband, the works. I thought that by dressing the part I would suddenly be an overnight superstar gymnast. Yeah…no…..
I never did learn how to do any acrobatics. Eventually I even forgot how to do the underdog flip (although I can still picture it in my mind). I am a runner and I strength train. However, I was never very flexible. I lack the core strength and confidence to even try these maneuvers without the risk of breaking something.
A few weeks back I was enjoying a glass of wine with my neighbor Tracy (who is also an awesome yogini). I admire Tracy. She doesn’t know it, but Tracy has taught me a great deal about life. The past few months we have developed a real friendship, and I feel fortunate to have her in my life. I can just walk over there, open the door and sit down. Tracy gets right up and starts cooking dinner for me…and she is an amazing cook. My kids call her “chef Tracy” No matter what I cook them, chef Tracy makes it better. She is way less structured and rigid than I am. I feel relaxed being around her. So here we are sipping some wine and chatting…and I mention to Tracy that I would love to learn how to do a handstand. Well Tracy gets me right up and within a few minutes she has me doing an assisted wall handstand. I was literally upside down.
Being upside down really changes your perceptions on life. It sort of “re-sets your mode” so to speak. Tracy told me it would…and strangely it did! I felt the blood rush to my head and I felt alive. I felt strong. I crashed to the floor shortly after, but I was filled with excitement-almost as if I were looking at life through a new set of eyes.
I recently celebrated a birthday, and Tracy surprised me and signed me up for a “Climb Higher Series, Mastering the Handstand” at a local yoga studio. I would get to learn the skills needed to do a real handstand!
My dear friend Melanie is an amazing photographer. Her studio is called Out of Eden Images. She is getting into fitness photography, as her new endeavor. I am lucky to have her photographing my progress during the handstand series! I will write about my progress each week, and the lessons I have learned along the way. My hope is that by week 4 I will be doing an unassisted handstand! Maybe…either way, I will learn a lot.
“It is not about mastering the handstand. It is about the journey to get there.”-Justin Wolfer (our yoga instructor) Taking any steps toward a new goal is scary-whatever that goal may be. I’m sure I will feel uncomfortable and awkward. Leaving what feels comfortable is hard. It’s scary, it may hurt-a lot…but sometimes it needs to be done. You cannot grow and change if you are stagnant.
Day 1: I fell…many times. But I was able to laugh at myself and get back up again. Justin explained that we would go through a series of poses to help build strength, stamina, and confidence while being in a new position. It takes a certain amount of self-awareness to essentially use your hands as feet…(and not worry about falling and breaking something).
At first I was frustrated because when I crashed I sounded as loud as a pile of books landing on the floor.
I gave the people around me a few good chuckles. Justin reminded us to have fun and smile! He wasn’t one of those strict yoga teachers where you get the look of death if you start cracking up. I appreciated that. He also reminded us to be soft on our feet. I need to practice being softer on my feet. At certain points I became frustrated because people around me seemed to just “get it.” I quickly learned that I had to completely block out those around me and turn my focus inward. When I did this, I started to make progress in my own way. This is true in life! We tend to compare…we focus on those around us. Just by turning your focus inward, you will begin to understand yourself more. When you understand yourself, you can understand those around you. You stop blaming. You grow as a person. I was able to do an assisted wall handstand, and the instructor was able to let go for a brief moment before I crashed to the floor. Overall, the first class was a success for me. I learned some lessons, I feel stronger. Most importantly I had some good laughs. I’m ready for the next step!