Handstand lessons

Yup, this is head stand prep not hand stand, but it works too.  Photo by Lindley Battle

Yup, this is head stand prep not hand stand, but it works too.  Photo by Lindley Battle

Handstand a metaphor for life: As big into yoga as I am, I've never before felt the need to conquer some of the flashier poses.  To me yoga has been about getting into my body, giving myself over to feeling solid and grounded.  Maybe I've even been a little judgmental of others that have lifted up easily into a handstand or forearm balance.  Sometimes I've thought to myself "you're just showing off, yoga is about being in your body, being on your mat not flying above it."

Bah, yoga you are a constant teacher! a) Alisha why are you judging?   b) Alisha could it be that you are jealous?  Jealous that they are strong enough (in body and mind) to try and you are keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground?  

Why are you listening to negative self talk like "you aren't strong enough yet.  You need a stronger core, you need to practice longer before you do an advanced pose like that."?  Yes I was judging and jealous and letting my own insecurities bubble up.  

Our mat is the perfect teacher as you can see, both point a and point b are coming from a place of fear.   

For some reason recently I decided to start practicing handstand in my daily practice.  It came to me out of no where.  All of a sudden I said to myself, I am strong enough, this is something I can do.  It's become a single pointed focus in my personal practice recently, sun salutations to warm up, handstand practice and then savasana".  This is what my practice has been.  Confession: sometimes I even skip the warm up and just go right to hand stand practice.  

I mentioned to an acquaintance from the yoga world recently that I was practicing handstand and I wanted to learn to do it in the middle of the room.  The wall has been a crutch.  She said never practice against the wall.  She is right I shouldn't be at the wall if I want to learn to hold a handstand in the middle of the room.  

When you are practicing in the middle of the room your legs need to kick up higher and further to a place almost where you feel like you are going to fall backwards and flip right over.  That is where the sensation of balance comes in.  There is no wall to keep you from toppling over in the middle of the room.  

If there is no wall, sometimes your brain plays tricks on you and tries to stop you from kicking up with enough force to bring you into a place of balance.  There is a magical place where your hands are firmly planted, your hips are over your shoulders, your core is engaged and you are suspended.  

I've got it for the most part at the wall, I can sometimes kick right up into that place of what deceptively feels like perfection at the wall.  But the wall is a crutch. The wall keeps me "safe", but is that really safe?  Is not taking a real risk actually safe? Staying at the wall keeps me from finding my balance on my own, finding balance in reality.  I know with the wall there I won't fall out and come crashing to the ground, but if I practice in the middle of the room, it's scary, I'll have to learn how to fall.  I'll learn what it feels like to actually fail, actually pick myself up and try again, over and over and over.  If I practice in the middle of the room I'll have to have faith in myself and know that even if I fall it's ok.  By practicing in the middle of the room, I learn how to fall without getting hurt.  When I do hover over over my shoulders with feet in the air it's with the satisfaction of knowing I'm sound and balanced on my own two hands.  This teaches me a lesson on the mat and a good lesson of life.  

It also reminded me not to judge, while I was judging the people on their hands they were learning life lessons I wasn't ready for yet, and I also learned I should have replaced that jealousy with practice.  

Now if you'll excuse me it's time to try another kick up.