Some people think that if they can’t do a handstand, they failed at yoga somehow. I am here to say that is just not true. Yoga is not about nailing the pose; yoga is about the process. It’s about what you learn and experience along the way to the pose. Read that again.
Hearing that for the first time during a yoga class made me realize that while getting upside down can be scary, it is necessary for me. It’s necessary because I want to learn something about myself along the way to the challenging pose that will no doubt give me a new perspective.
I started my love-hate relationship with handstands when I was a 12-year-old gymnast. I used to get painful spasms in my feet from pointing my toes too intensely while in a handstand. I quit gymnastics at age 14 and stopped practicing handstands as a result.
When I found yoga, I was young and naive. I treated it like I treat everything else, a competition. I mastered the poses quickly and impressed my friends with my flexibility. I still avoided handstands though. It seemed like if I didn’t try something that I couldn’t do perfectly, I wouldn’t ruin my record of nailing every pose I tried.
It took me a really long time to realize that yoga is not a competition. It’s not about getting it exactly right. Actually, yoga means something different to everyone, every day. Some days, my yoga is to slow down and listen to my breath. Other days, my yoga was to spend more time strengthening my core. More and more often, I noticed that my yoga was pushing me to get out of my comfort zone—upside down.
So I tried a handstand. It was awful. But then the next day I tried again. And the next day, again. I told myself just one a day. Eventually, I got stronger. Eventually, it became something to look forward to. I learned variations. I started strength training and practicing forearm stands. I stopped pointing my toes so intensely because I wasn’t doing it for my gymnastics coach; I was doing it for me. And that is how I fell in love with handstands and forearm stands, more commonly known in the yoga world as inversions. My greatest challenge—something I was too afraid to attempt because of fear of failure—became an activity I look forward to everyday.
Now it’s your turn. Try something outside your comfort zone today. You may surprise yourself.
Until next time,