Upside down ……. it’s one of the most fun and one of the hardest things to be …… everything just seems to go back to front – a strange trick of the brain. One of my goals of my ytt, along with improving flexibility, was to do an unsupported handstand. I didn’t specify to myself how long I needed to hold to meet my goal – but I wanted to hold long enough to feel that I’d achieved the statement – to feel weightless for just one or two seconds and then build from there. When I was a kid I could do it, so it was just a matter of remembering how, wasn’t it?
I’d managed to confidently raise into a stable supported headstand and stay ‘up’ a few months before my ytt. I hadn’t practiced for quite a while as it hadn’t come up in my regular classes, but one day it did and amazingly enough, it just happened – it was by no means perfect, but it was there. I guess the strength I’d built in my asana practice help to make it feel more effortless. Teddy bears and tripods I’d not tried and pincha – well I saw some guys practicing pincha before a class a few weeks before and it looked impossible to me – how could your forearms support your full weight and stay steady, without collapsing into a heap? Handstands – yes I’d tried in recent years, but in a busy yoga class it rarely came up in the sequence so I never really had the time to focus on my technique and improve. So when handstands and pinchas were in our ytt sequence, I was excited to get some practice in and actually learn how to execute.
I managed to do pincha against the wall much quicker than I thought I would. After the first time we practiced early in week 2, I could kick up to the wall and hold for a nano second without the wall – yay me! Body shape however was a problem. When I saw the pictures, I really didn’t look comfortable – bit of an banana and bum sticking out. I guess I’d spent all my energy getting upside down, so ‘tightening, tucking and straightening’ were obviously all too much for me to handle as well!
So carry on practicing was the key – at every point in time where we had self practice, or after ‘school’, my go-to practice poses were pincha and handstands (oh and stretching out my quads and my back for that flexibility!). Each time I’d try to move further away from my comfort wall (well – Jessica told me to!), so as not to rely on momentum and bounce back. By the end of week 3, I felt something click. Somehow I’d managed to find balance without the bounce back from the wall – nano seconds in each, but my brain clocked how my body felt. My daily practice in all the other asanas must have helped with my balance and posture, and my inversions had benefited. Week 4 was my real breakthrough in both. I managed to get into and hold both my pincha and handstand without the wall – when I say hold, I mean 2-3 seconds and when I say without the wall, it was there lurking in the background (not quite that brave yet), but I’d moved much further away from it and I didn’t touch it to get to my hold – but hey, a breakthrough is a breakthrough and my ytt goal achieved! It’s such a buzz to manage to hold, even if it’s just for a couple of seconds – and confirms again that dedicated practice does lead to improvement. When I look back at the video of my handstand hold, it looks like such a short time, but when I was ‘in it’, it felt amazing and I know I can do better, which spurs me on even more. Oh and by the way, somewhere in week 3 we did teddy bear and tripod and I managed them too – no walls! Life is just so much fun when you’re upside down!