the llama blog
practicing yoga off the mat.
At the beginning of the summer, my Wednesday class agreed to take on a new challenge - to float into handstand. As scary as the pose may sound to a beginner, I was even more scared as a teacher to instruct it.
Gulp. I came home, and almost immediately regretted offering to teach such a challenging pose. It was in that moment I realized I was terrified. Anxious because I’m not strong at this pose. Terrified someone may get hurt. Afraid of what I didn’t know.
“When fears are grounded, dreams take flight.”
I opened up my teaching manuals, and read lots of articles while taking notes (I’m a bit of a bookworm). I took these notes to my mat and practiced what others suggested. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. And then a light bulb came on. I didn’t have to teach handstand on week 2. I could continue to learn and grow while sharing my knowledge with my students over the entire summer.
Each week, I brought a new sequence of core strengtheners and arm balances. I added a dash of handstand how-to’s to each class such as holding downward facing dog to build stamina and practicing more Pilates-inspired exercises to support the core. Learning about handstands became fun and exhilarating. I couldn’t wait until the next week to bring a little more knowledge to my students.
In addition, my own handstand practice got stronger. I warmed up the abdomen, opened the shoulders and practiced both kicking and hopping into handstand against my front door. Some days my legs seem to float in the air while other days they felt like lead. I would sit and contemplate what was going on in my body (and my day). On most of these “bad” days, I realized I was in my head too much. I needed to be playful and okay with falling.
As the summer came to an end, it was time to practice handstands at the wall. When I noticed my students didn’t seem as scared of the idea, my heart filled with joy. I had succeeded in overcoming my fear and created a safe place for them to explore. Each chose his/her own option of handstand, and I hope felt the same sense of excitement I felt for them.
I thank you all for joining me on this ride. Let’s kick off September with a new journey. Your choice!