My Life Inverted: the view from UpSiDe DoWn

headstand
Headstand

I started practicing yoga my senior year at Clemson. For my last semester at Clemson, I wanted to squeeze in a fitness course to go along with my psychology and biology courses. Modern dance wasn’t my thing. If you have ever had the pleasure of seeing me dance, it’s usually a night that I’ve had one too many shots and I’m getting low and loose on the dance floor while whipping my hair back and forth. Yoga it was. My yoga class was Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 10:45. Weird that I remember the exact days and time.

I instantly loved yoga from the moment I stepped onto my mat. It was releasing, tranquil, and soothing. It was like a beautiful foreign language but of movement instead of words. Well, I guess words too since the postures are in Sanskrit. I’ve never been a flexible person, so it was a bit challenging to get used to some of the postures. But I enjoyed the challenge. With every class, I felt myself reaching a litter bit further, stretching a little bit farther. And my mind was at ease.

I continued yoga when I moved back to Indiana. While living at home during my master’s program, I practiced yoga along with videos and FitTV, but it wasn’t the same as practicing in a class or yoga studio. During optometry school I joined Lifestyle gym and took yoga classes after my spin and body pump classes. But I felt my mind wandering and I couldn’t pay attention, ADD at it’s best.

That’s when my girlfriend Leslie (The Adventures of Lesalina) introduced me to hot yoga. It was love at first pose. Yoga in a sauna. I was instantly amazed at all the crazy positions the yogis’ bodies were in. They were twisted, inverted, and torted. I had never seen anything like it. I want to do that! It was yoga on steroids! Everyone around me was in headstands, handstands, wheels, and shoulder stands.

I was addicted. I started going to hot yoga two to three days a week while in Indy on summer break. And every weekend, I drove from Bloomington to Indy so see my love, sling Jager, work at Lanter Eye Care and go to hot yoga! I remember I did a headstand a few times in P.E. in high school during our gymnastics portion of gym, so I new I had it in me. But why couldn’t I do it?! I was scared to do a headstand.  I was scared to be upside down!

After three years of practicing hot yoga, I still couldn’t do a headstand. I would get in position and get one leg up and then when it was time to put the second leg up I would get scared and just get into child’s pose. The yoga instructors would help me get both legs up, but I would get somewhat embarrassed that after that long I couldn’t do it by myself. Why was I so afraid of being upside down. This fear also transferred to CrossFit during handstands. I would watch my peers effortlessly do a handstand against the wall and then on top of that do handstand push-ups. I attempted to do a handstand in a few CrossFit sessions, but again I was afraid to commit and just do it.

Finally, on Friday, January 25, 2013, after almost four months of Crossfit, I did it. I did a handstand at CrossFit. We were working on skills and handstand push-ups (me just handstands) and I was only getting half way up and then falling back down. I was scared, frustrated, and angry at myself. My friend Karen even tried to help me and I was still not committing. Coach Kevin saw me struggling and came over to help me. He gave me simple instructions and said “Just do it, I know you can. ” My first attempt 3/4 the way there. He said “just commit.” My next attempt…I did it! I did a handstand! Then I did it again and held it for over 10 seconds. Then I did it a third time. I was so excited I started screaming like a ten year old girl and jumped up and gave Kevin a big hug. He probably thought I was crazy, but that’s okay because I finally conquered my fear.

handstand
Teaching the hubs how to do handstands on a Saturday night.

Still glowing from my newly found invertedness, that next night I showed my husband how I could do a handstand and even taught him how to do one. That next week I went to hot yoga and I did a headstand. Three of them in fact, each held for thirty seconds each. I didn’t even hesitate, i just did them. Once balanced on my head, I put both legs up at the same time using my core instead of one leg at a time. Now I do headstands like I’ve been doing them for years. I’m a headstand machine. I will be forever grateful to CrossFit for giving me the strength to overcome my fear while being upside down.

I still have my moments at CrossFit, where it takes me a few tries to get into a handstand and my “head” gets in the way of doing it, but I eventually overcome. Some day I’ll get to the point where I can do a handstand on my first attempt every time and do a handstand push-up. Until then I’ll just keep committing and overcoming my fear.

While upside down, whether it’s a headstand or handstand, what am I actually thinking about? I’m telling myself to breath, to hold my core tight, and to remain calm. But now that I’m comfortable in headstands in hot yoga, my mind starts to wander. It wanders to whatever is bothering me that day. After a heated argument with my family yesterday, I went to hot yoga to sweat it all out. While in a headstand, I started to see a different perspective, my family’s perspective. Maybe I was in the wrong, maybe they were in the wrong, maybe we were all in the wrong. Either way, I was seeing a different perspective from upside down. My mind wasn’t as foggy, it was clearer. From now on, to get a different perspective, I’ll be doing it from upside down. And maybe working on a handstand push-up at the same time.

My view from upside down in quotes:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” ~Lao Tzu

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” ~Buddha

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

“The mind is everything. What you think you become.” ~Buddha

“Be careful with your words. Once they are said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten.”

“When you love what you have, you have everything you need.”

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