Lessons Learned from a Headstand
I started practicing yoga on January 1, 2015. My quest was to do yoga every day for 40 days. I didn’t give myself lots of rules, I just committed to getting on my mat every day for at least 15 minutes. This would be a really BIG DEAL for someone like me. I have a difficult work schedule and I knew very little about yoga when I started down this road. And then there’s my athletic ability…or complete lack thereof. I grew up playing instruments, not sports. In fact I have a complete disdain for any sport played with a ball as it always finds a way to my face. My gross motor skills and upper body strength were that of a 5 year old. But I figured what the hell, it’s only 40 days.
Over the next month, I did yoga everyday. I was determined to find a way to fit it into my life. I bought a travel mat and took it with me to work and on vacation. Some days, I attended classes and other days (most days) I carved out just 15min before bed to get through a few sun salutations. After a month, I was growing more confident in my strength and ability-poses that initially seemed impossible I could now hold for a few moments! My motivation increased with each passing day. And then I made the age-old mistake of comparing myself to another. A girlfriend of mine became interested in yoga around the same time. We went to a few of Brittany’s classes together and had fun talking about our growing yoga practices. One night, she was over for dinner and she showed off her newly-acquired headstand. I was seriously impressed-I mean, a headstand??? Seriously??? That’s like real yogi stuff. She was kind and humble and told me she was sure I could do it, too, if I only practiced. So I became determined to do a headstand.
The next evening I recruited my husband to help me. I fumbled my way into a tripod and he yanked my legs into the air. It. Hurt. So. Much. It literally felt like my head might explode. “Put me down! Put me down!” I yelled, then went crashing to the floor. We attempted this several times. How unfair that she can already do a headstand, I thought. She wasn’t doing yoga everyday. Suddenly, all of my small achievements and successes over the last month seemed trivial. I went to bed so frustrated with my self and my body. The next morning when I woke up, the skin around my eyes was red and swollen. In my determination to do a headstand I had actually broken the tiny blood vessels in my face! Wow. This is not what yoga is about, I said to myself. I realized in that moment that I will have my own journey with yoga and my girlfriend will have her own journey, too. I needed to worry less about her and instead honor my own practice.
A month later, I still can’t do a headstand. But I also surpassed my 40 day goal, and I’m really proud of that. My new goal is 108 days. I look forward to seeing where this path leads me, even if it isn’t upside down.
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