Two years ago, when I started doing yoga with my current teacher, the word ‘handstand’ struck terror in my heart. I’d say a little prayer at the beginning of practice. “Please don’t let him ask us to do the handstand today.” Sometimes my prayer was answered, but lots of times it wasn’t. And when my teacher said, with a cheery smile, “Now let’s go into the handstand”, a feeling of dread would come over me. I’d start to sweat. I’d feel sick to my stomach. It took every bit of willpower for me not to run from the room. And I was never successful in getting up into the position.
I have no idea why I was so afraid. There are many poses more difficult than the handstand, and while I have certainly struggled (and continue to struggle) with them, there is no fear factor. At least not like there has been for the handstand.
As the months went on, my fear very slowly started to subside. I stopped feeling like I was going to vomit every time I even thought of trying the pose. But still I couldn’t get up into the handstand by myself. Once my teacher or Joe helped me into the position I was fine, but it was the getting up there that just wasn’t happening.
Then this month, I started being able to get one foot to hit the wall behind me. It wouldn’t stay there long enough for me to bring the second foot up, but it gave me hope. Maybe this wasn’t impossible after all.
Today our teacher talked about just allowing ourselves to move into the poses. Thinking and analyzing is what gets us into trouble, he said. Instead, surrender and just let it happen. And it worked! After several false starts, I was able to jump into the handstand all by myself.
At first came surprise. I’d done it? I’D DONE IT!! Then I had the desire to jump up and down or do a happy dance. But then I felt something shift inside me and all of a sudden I started to cry. I felt so silly and I let my hair fall into my face so no one could see my tears.
It must seem ridiculous to you that I make so much of a handstand. But of course this really had little to do with a yoga pose and much more to do with overcoming fears and obstacles. When I walked out of the yoga room this morning I felt several inches taller.
Will I be able to do the handstand again tomorrow? Who knows. But after today, pretty much anything seems possible.