Practicing handstands outside.

How I Fell in Love with Handstands

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.

Practicing handstands outside.
Practicing handstands outside.

Now it’s your turn. Try something outside your comfort zone today. You may surprise yourself.

Until next time,

Leah Pinkus

6 thoughts on “How I Fell in Love with Handstands

  1. Great advice! I have been wanting to learn how to do handstands as part of my yoga practice, but fear has been holding me back. This has really encouraged me to go for it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been trying to slowly build up the confidence to do handstand (I can now do headstand without a wall, and “walk” myself up to a very short handstand in my hallway (in between two walls)) but I am still afraid to kick up far enough to get my hips over my shoulders, even against a wall…. it really is a purely mental block, with a fear of falling forward and breaking my neck 🙂 I hope I get there one day ! thanks for posting 🙂 xxx Anne

    Like

    1. Hi Anne, I completely understand this fear! My suggestion would be to practice falling out of a handstand safely. There are lots of videos online on how to do so safely and this may help you get over your mental block. Good luck! —Leah

      Liked by 1 person

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