Let’s talk about Handstands and Headstands. If you’ve been to a Power Yoga class, they are kind of the “cool kid on campus.” Everyone is impressed by them, and wants to be just like them. Then there’s the rest of us: the still workin’ on my upper body strength, got a weird shoulder, being upside down is the scariest thing ever…rest of us. I’ve been to countless classes where the teacher instructs you to “just kick up” into handstand with little to no modification instruction, or even worse, grabs your ankles and forces you to hang upside down like an animal preparing to be slaughtered. Then you accidentally kick her in the face and she looks at you like YOU are the one with the problem. If you have extra body weight, injuries, or are lacking in core and upper body strength, you may have resigned yourself to the “always going to be upright crew.” I am here to tell you that even the precious handstand isn’t an all or nothing thing. There is a step before flailing about while trying to kick up your legs in hopes of ending up in a handstand. There’s the L-Stand.
Firstly, do not attempt this until you can hold a Downward Facing Dog very comfortably for 10-15 breaths. You need a certain amount of core, back, and upper body strength before even attempting kicking up into handstand. It’s a simple matter of personal safety. Handstands and Headstands aren’t for everyone, and I think too few teachers state this. If you can’t achieve the L-Stand just yet, practice holding Downward Facing Dog.
Start on the ground on your hands and knees with the soles of your feet touching the wall. If you have wrist issues, you can come onto your forearms at this point. Next, straighten your legs and lift your hips. Then, bring your feet up to hip level on the wall so you form an “L” shape. Engage your core here to protect the spine, and hold for 10 breaths.
If you can hold for 10 breaths, try doing this with one leg on the wall and one leg in the air. If you can do that for 10 breaths, then, kick up into handstand.
My uncomfortable task of the day has been getting rid of some of my possessions. (Which explains the gigantic trash bag I forgot was in frame.) My husband and I inherited a lot of belongings from deceased loved ones. It has never been more apparent just how much we had until we packed it all up, moved it across the country, and lugged it up 4 flights of stairs. I think the desire to hold onto the possessions of those no longer here is to give them some sort of tangible existence. To hold something they used, they loved is proof of their being alive. For a time, it gave me comfort to see my dad’s things around, but it can easily turn into dedicating all your energy to “curating the museum of Dad.”
I am reminded of the yoga ethical practice of Aparigraha or nonpossessiveness. In Deborah Adele’s Yamas and Niyamas she talks about, “What you cling to, clings to you.” She discusses the difference between enjoyment and attachment. For a time, I enjoyed having a lot of my dad’s things. Now, I notice that I’m just attached to them. They have become a burden. I’m not going out and getting rid of everything he owned, but I am finding myself examining why I kept certain things and giving myself permission to donate or get rid of them.
“Love is what is left when
You’ve let go of
All the things you love.” – Swami Jnaneshvara