Turn Your World Upside Down

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My childhood was consumed with large quantities of time spent walking around on my hands. I adored being upside down and did gymnastics for many years. Kick up, fall down. Kick up, fall down. Kick up, fall down. I repeated this over and over and over again, loving every second of the process.

Until one day I stopped.

I grew up, moved away, went off to college, and for many years didn’t give it another thought (except every once in a while when I would bust out a handstand or drop into the splits as a party trick- shh: usually not sober). I mean, ‘grownups’ don’t do handstands. Right?

Wrong!

Over the course of the past year-and-a-half, I have re-discovered my longtime favorite yoga pose (I just didn’t know it was a yoga pose at the time): Handstand. In fact, tomorrow (Monday, September 2, 2013) for Sacramento Free Day of Yoga, I’ll be leading a 4:30-5:30 pm FREE yoga practice at It’s All Yoga centered around this very pose!

Still not sold on the idea?

In case you are a handstand skeptic, here are my top 10 favorite reasons why Handstand absolutely freakin’ rocks:

#1 – Handstand is an opportunity to come face-to-face with fear. You get to look fear directly in the eyes and say “I’m scared and I might move very very slowly, but I’m not going to stop.Finding the inner strength to keep going even when you are scared feels incredibly empowering.

#2 –  Seeing the world from upside down offers you a completely different perspective. When the world isn’t making sense, I like to kick up into a Handstand because from that vantage point, things simply look different.

#3 – Practicing Handstand builds strength. It actually doesn’t matter whether you make it into the “full” pose or not, simply by putting your hands down on the floor and kicking, you will build upper body and core strength.

#4 – Being upside down snaps you right back into the present moment. Who has time to think about their to-do list while balancing on their hands?

#5 – Handstand is an opportunity to reconnect with what it felt like to be a child. That carefree feeling of running around a park chasing butterflies or bouncing on a trampoline … there is no better opportunity to tune in to your inner child than when you are upside down.

#6 – Practicing Handstand builds resilience. You have to surrender to the reality that you will fall down again and again, and yet be willing to keep at it anyway.

#7 – Want to feel powerful? This is the pose for you.

#8 – Need an energy boost? Handstands are invigorating and leave me feeling jazzed for hours.

#9 – Inversions can offer all sorts of health benefits, including decompressing the spine, improving circulation, changing your body’s relationship with gravity, helping your lymph system remove waste … the list goes on and on.

#10 – When you remember that it’s about the process, not the product, Handstand practice is playful and FUN!

And without further ado, I hope to see you on the mat tomorrow! :)

6 comments

  1. I admire people who can do it, but I’d probably have to be in a wide open place to try it.

    1. Margaret- the wall can be very much your friend when you are first getting started!! :)

      1. I can see that would be helpful!:)

  2. I do a lot of stretching that I’ve learned in dance class and PT over the years to keep my muscles used to the idea of movement beyond the narrow scope that adults usually do. I love the idea of retaining childhood movement, and that view of the world. But I’ll watch others do handstands, I’m not sure I have the nerve anymore…

    1. Yes, it is *so* scary! (especially at first) The way I like to approach the pose is incrementally – breaking it apart into its component pieces and focusing at first only on those pieces that are manageable for you / your body (just practicing the kicking movement, for example, without the slightest bit of an intention to go up Ito handstand) Eventually there is a possibility that those little pieces will add up into being able to tackle the “full” pose. And as I said to my class yesterday – unfortunately with handstand it’s all about working with where you *actually* are, not where you want to be! (But then again, that’s the *real* yoga! :))

      1. That is another way that yoga is good for life – remembering where you actually are and how that differs from where you want to be…

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