handstand attempt in Nicaragua
Practice, practice, and all is coming – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
Even though I had been practicing yoga on and off since I took my first class in 1998, I used to think that I would not be a legit yogi until I had mastered Adho Mukha Vrksasana, aka handstand.
Two things happened that changed my mind.
do it now. do it now. do it now
First: a friend at work signed up for the first part of Anusara teacher training, which I had been quietly planning to do within the next five years – after I had perfected handstand, of course. “Why not do it now?”, she asked me. And she was right. I couldn’t do handstand, but I had the support and blessing of my coworkers to pursue this goal, I was in an okay-enough financial position to take this on, and lastly – I was passionate about learning how to share the gift of yoga with others. I registered for teacher training a few days after this conversation, in January 2010.
handstand attempt at Carcross Desert, the Yukon
set your intention
The second thing that happened was during teacher training itself, which was full of all sorts of partner-assisted handstands, including forearm balances, dropbacks, supported one-arm handstands, and a variety of ways to kick up. Someone asked if you could still be a good instructor without being able to demonstrate all advanced poses. “I don’t give a shit if you can do handstand or not,” our teacher said. With that one sentence, my perspective shifted. He continued: “What’s important is your intention. The way you open yourself to grace every time you practice. The way you encourage others and teach what you know from a place of authenticity.”
I realized then that my handstand goal had to change in order for me to achieve it.
I was reminded of my teacher’s words about handstand during a hot yoga class this past Friday morning. As we reached back to grab our ankles and extend out into Dancer Pose, the teacher said: “There are no final yoga poses. There is always something to learn, something new to explore, something we haven’t yet experienced.”
handstand attempt in Campbell River BC
the pursuit of handstands
Today is July 10, 2011. I’m a certified yoga teacher. I still can’t do handstand, without the wall, in the middle of a room with no one to catch me if I fall. But I’ve realized that the discipline of a regular and consistent yoga practice is much more important and difficult than mastering one advanced pose.
To others in pursuit of handstand, this is what matters: you got out of bed. You unrolled your mat. You moved, you breathed, you were kind to yourself and others. Your handstand, the master pose that you think signals you are finally a yogi, does not exist. You are a yogi now. What matters is your two hands, pressed into the top of your mat, and your open heart. What matters is that you kicked up, that you keep kicking, that you kick over and over and over.
Practice, practice, and all is coming.