What my first handstand taught me

I’ve heard a lot of people say that their yoga practice has allowed them to learn about themselves and that their mat is a space to grapple with internal issues.  Honestly, I didn’t get it.  To me, it was just a physical exercise that helped me to feel more relaxed.  I’m writing this post because in the last few weeks of taking a new Iyengar yoga class that actually makes me feel both challenged and supported, I realize that yoga has now become for me also a space to do some internal reflection.

While I am now able to do something new with my body, a handstand (yasssss), my practice has confirmed old lessons about myself that I  know to be true.

  • I hold myself back
    • Whenever there is the option to do modifications to go deeper into a position, my first instinct is to stick with what feels comfortable.
  • I am not too old to do new things
    • I used to think that inversions were only for serious yogi’s. However, the fact that I’m on my way to expanding the bounds of my yoga practice shows progress and my potential for other poses.
  • I don’t need as much ‘practice’ time as I think
    • I was pretty comfortable taking baby steps leading up to a handstand because in my head, I wasn’t ready.  I feel this way a lot, and I have to remind myself that 1) I am baked and have everything that I need 2) It’s okay not to have everything ‘together’.
  • Be open to receiving support from people when/where you wouldn’t expect it
    • I really love the woman who teaches the class.  For one, she calls me by name, and isn’t afraid to correct me.  I need that in all facets of my life.  When it comes times for inversions, she asks what I’m going to do, encourages me to try something more challenging and to also work on my weaker side (the left).  If it were up to me, I’d still be doing an L on the wall and just hanging out. Now, I’m pretty addicted to handstands and I practice at home.  When I did my handstand that day, the entire class started clapping for me.  I didn’t even know that they were watching, so it felt great to have a room full of strangers support and congratulate me.

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