I’m so excited to have Ilene here from The Fierce Diva Gide To Life. I can’t remember when or how I came across Ilene and her blog but I fell in love immediately. She’s an incredible writer and storyteller who always makes me reflect on my own intentions and actions. Plus, she’s one heck of a cheerleader to have in your corner. I was really excited to read her post because it resonates with me. After 10+ years of practicing yoga, I still am uncomfortable doing inversions. There’s just something about being upside down that doesn’t sit well with me. But now, I’m convinced to try again.
The burly man spoke at us in barks, rattling out demands like a drill sergeant during basic training.
“What’s your name?”
“Why are you here? “
“You heard me. You! I said chant Om!”
The teacher trainees went around the circle, each taking a stab at reciting the mantra to his satisfaction. “There’s no life in that Om!” he would spat. “Where’s your passion?”
He settled into a lecture on the Yamas and Niyamas, the ethical guidelines of yoga. He still spoke in a gruff tone, but I felt relieved that he was no longer calling us out or evaluating the way we chanted mantras in Sanskrit.
Until at random, he called up the trainees to evaluate our headstands.
My heart began to pound uncontrollably.
Here I was, in my second month of teacher training, having taken my first yoga class almost ten years prior, and I could not do a headstand.
In classes, I would spend the time allotted for headstand practicing an acceptable variation of the posture or a “headstand preparation pose.” but who was I kidding? I was “preparing” for a posture that I was convinced I would never do.
What was I going to say to this man? “I can’t do a headstand?” I could not see that going over so well with this particular guest lecturer, whose demeanor easily could have gotten him confused for a convict doing hard time in a maximum security prison.
He never called on me. I slid through the rest of teacher training without having to face headstand again, and while I knew it was an important posture for me to learn and feel comfortable teaching, I kept putting it off for another time in the future.
A few months after teacher training graduation, I took a class with Yogi C , who normally, had let me off the headstand hook, accepting whatever inversion variation I chose to practice in its place.
But not this time.
Yogi C stopped on front of my mat, and said. “Today’s the day!”
“Today?” I asked startled.
“Let’s do it!”
I placed the crown of my head on the floor and walked my feet toward my body. Yogi C grabbed my ankles and lifted my legs until they were straight in the air.
Gently Yogi C let go of my ankles. I began to sway. “Don’t talk yourself out of it!” he urged.
Within three seconds, I was down.
But not before holding that headstand on my own for one fleeting moment.
I began to try headstand at home. I wanted headstand. I wanted the benefits, which were many. In the text published by The Bihar School of Yoga, it states, “Inverted (postures) change the normal patterns, throwing a new light on old patterns of behavior and beings. They improve health, reduce anxiety and stress, and increase self-confidence. “ BKS Iyengar in Light on Yoga proclaims, “It’s mastery gives one balance and poise, both physically and mentally.” By most experts in the yoga world, headstand is considered the greatest of all postures.
I had a step by step understanding of what I physically needed to do. In theory, I simply needed to follow the instructions, and I would be able to get into the posture, yet my at-home attempts would last a second or two, before I came crashing down.
Despite my mechanical understanding of headstand, it remained one of the many items in the category of my life that can only be explained as “the elusive things.”
The elusive things should have been within my reach due to my knowledge, practice, and experience but they were out of my reach for no good reason.
There was the elusive marathon that I was never able to run despite my 20 years running.
The elusive career success, despite giving Corporate America 15 years of total devotion.
There was the elusive man who I finally found in my 30s but not until after years of toxic relationships.
And now, there was the elusive headstand.
Behind the “elusive things” seemed to be a nagging uncertainty, if not doubt, that any of those things could actually be “mine.”
This uncertainty caused a disconnect between my body and my mind.
It was the same disconnect that kept me from pushing harder in my running and the same disconnect that caused me to make excuses for settling for less in many areas of my life.
“Company X may pay me less than I would make elsewhere, but they make it up to me in flexibility!”
“Maybe I’m just one of those people who’s not meant to get married.“
But in recent years, something interesting had begun to happen. Even though I still made excuses for the elusive things, they weren’t automatic anymore. I noticed the excuses, and I had begun to question them.
Why, all of the sudden, after four decades on this earth, did I start to notice these thought patterns? I attest it to the process of self-inquiry that occurs in conjunction with a yoga and meditation practice. When we cultivate awareness, we can’t help but notice certain aspects within our belief system that don’t quite make sense.
Why wouldn’t I feel entitled to the same pay as others in my field?
Why would I doubt my ability to finish a marathon when I had been running for 20 years!
Why would I believe that I wasn’t worthy of a healthy partnership with a man?
Why would I believe that I couldn’t do a headstand?
I decided not to buy into my own excuses anymore, and instead, look beyond them.
And guess what? I do headstands now.
I can’t wait to see what’s next.
The Fierce Diva Guide To Life is a place where I discuss my passions, which range from meditation, to green smoothies to my foster dogs, and my rather eclectic yoga playlist. It is a venue for me to rant about the evils of processed sugar, my insecurities as a mom, and the strife of navigating a New Jersey wholesale club store on a Saturday afternoon. It is a place where I visit and revisit the topic of happiness again and again, because ultimately, it is what we are all seeking. I am a yoga teacher, writer, mother of 3, vegetarian, runner, lover of eyeliner, incense, and skullcaps, believer in possibilities, and a highly enthusiastic practitioner of headstands.
You can find Ilene here:
Thanks Ilene for hanging out here today!
Do you practice yoga? Does being upside down make you feel uncomfortable as it makes me?
*** One last thing, are you the next member of the Mezamashii Run Project? ***
Congratulations Christine @ Oatmeal Bowl!! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!! If the winner doesn’t contact me within 48 hours, I will pick a new winner. Thanks!