I knew I could do it, but had been unable to attempt it paralyzed by fear. One of my yoga friends had challenged me to try bringing my head down into neutral alignment in handstand, shifting my gaze straight across as opposed to down to the earth.
Looking down had been my comfort zone for so long. I mean I’m already in handstand, which had taken years of yoga practice and the triumph over fears of falling while standing on my hands.
It’s kinda funny but even after practicing handstand for years, I occasionally have spurts where I seem to lose progress. I had fallen out sideways a couple times recently, losing the vital focus required to sustain my balance and the sweet integration of breath, body, and mind. This seemed to have highlighted some chinks in my armor, so to speak, and I hadn’t been approaching handstand with my usual gusto.
Thankfully, there’s nothing with as much healing potential as the present moment. A Monday morning staff meeting at Breathe turned into a photoshoot for upcoming events. I’m teaching the Journey to Handstand this Sunday and I wanted a photo where I was in the pose looking at the camera. I just had to do it. So I planted my hands sprung into my pike and slowly extended my legs. Now the moment of truth. I allowed my chin to come towards my chest, gradually shifting my gaze toward the windows across the room and managed a smile. It’s impossible to articulate the feeling exactly, but a it was something of an effervescent combination of exuberance, valor, and a touch of relief at conquering a block that been lodged in my psyche for so long. I really felt steady and my smile became more genuine as the photo was taken.
It’s this kind of joy in breakthroughs that yoga practice has offered me throughout the years that I love sharing with others. The practice of inversions specifically is like no other in that way, because for many of us it raises our fears and doubts. It asks a lot of us to be courageous, and not let our limiting beliefs take deeper root. I know that inversions can cause feelings of inadequacy and frustration, but the other side of that is a sense of accomplishment and progress that can only be attained through determination the willingness to dust yourself off and try again when it doesn’t go your way (many times).
These lessons strengthen our psyche, and nourish our soul. The opportunity to break through in this significant way is not something to avoid, but something we can welcome when we get out of our head and trust our journey.
See you on the mat.