Handstands, a lesson in trust and strength.

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Akumal, Mexico 7/2014

Ever since I began practicing yoga, nearly two years ago, I have been completely enchanted by handstands. I am constantly in awe watching super yogis and yoginis effortlessly press up, balancing perfectly and peacefully on their hands. I still have a long way to go before I can lift up with out force, and stay there! Every time I am able to hold myself upside down for a few seconds I am in complete bliss. I’ve learned some valuable (and unexpected) lessons during my journey:

  • Trust yourself- Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana) requires an immense amount of physical strength but much more mental strength. The natural reaction to being upside down is “What’s going on?! Please get me right side up!” Training the mind to be ok with being outside it’s comfort zone is not only helpful with handstands. I find it helpful to use a mantra to focus, such as ” Sat Nam” or “I am”. This mantra connects us to our True Self or the Divine Self.
  • Breathe- I can not stress this one enough, I think for the first year I practiced handstand I immediately held my breath after lifting off. With out the breath it is impossible to engage the muscles needed to balance. In uncomfortable situations our first reaction is generally to “hold the breath” which keeps the mind from being able to balance, not just on our hands.
  • Be humble- This may be the hardest one for me. One of the reasons I enjoy practicing handstand, and inversions in general, is because it physically tears down the Ego. Constantly falling on your butt will do that to you. It’s easy to let the Ego get in the way and get frustrated with yourself. Letting go allows for the heart to open up, and surprising things happen when we open up our hearts.
  • Lastly, Patience- Handstands, and other advanced asanas do not happen over night, they happen when the mind and body are ready. Do not force, go gently, enjoy the journey.