Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Problem with Handstands

Joshua Tree yoga - handstandImage via Wikipedia

There is nothing that makes my heart ache more than one of those pictures in Yoga Journal magazine of a yogini perfectly balanced on her hands, back bent, head lifted and feet dropping towards her head. She's smiling as if to say "this is the easiest thing I've ever done." Sigh.

I know I shouldn't want it so badly. I should put my ego aside when I'm on my mat. I should practice non-attachment to hand-standing outcomes. I should be where I am today. Double Sigh.

Adho Mukha Vrksasana, or handstand, is my yoga mountain; it's sheer rock face and I'm scaling it without a rope. I've figured out headstand (Salamba Sirsasana) and the forearm balance Pincha Mayurasana, but I'm missing something with handstand.

Upside down is one of my favorite ways to be. I could spend an hour in shoulder stand (Salamba Sarvangasana). I think the worst day can be turned around by a few minutes on my head. I'm not afraid of falling.

I can kick up to the wall and, as long as my feet are against the wall, hold handstand for awhile. I can take one foot off the wall. Take the second foot off the wall, though, and next thing I know my feet are back on the ground. Every time. I just can't master the balance.

When I was at Yoga Journal's Estes Park Conference in 2008, I took a handstanding workshop with David Swenson (the master of making it look easy). I paid attention and tried to do everything he said. We practiced with partners. Even with my partner holding me up, I couldn't keep my feet over my head.

One of my goals for November is to practice handstands every day. So far I have done one handstand each day against the wall. And, so far, I haven't gotten any better. Okay, it's only been a week, but I keep hoping for a breakthrough.

In the meantime, I'll keep working on letting go of my attachment to handstand. And not hating the Yoga Journal models.
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