Don't Lose Your Head, Just Flip It Upside Down

I can kick up into a handstand. I can kick up into a handstand. I can kick up into a handstand. If you tell yourself enough, it must become a reality.

I still remember the moment in my first yoga class when my teacher looked around and said, “Ok, let’s work on our inversions.” I froze still on my mat. I know what invert means, and I definitely did not want my body to do any such thing! See I was one of those rare children who was never much of a risk taker — I shied away from monkey bars, under no circumstances did cartwheels and even found the pressure and contact of netball too much to handle and had to promptly retire at age 11. I had spent my life being a stick-in-the-mud, how could I be expected to stand up in a room full of adults and hurl my body atop of my two little hands?!

The first few lessons were met with resistance as I would “just watch for today” the Mexican wave of legs skyrocket in the air as each individual yogi around me created a perfect line with their body, held their stance like a statue and delicately dismounted with grace reserved only for fairy tea parties. It just seemed like too much of an impossible feat, but I promised myself that I would try next time. Or next month. Or next year. Or maybe the secret to yoga was actually not being one to show off that I could do a handstand but rather show my restraint in my capabilities by not doing a handstand. Despite the fact that I was slowly convincing myself that I had just uncovered the ultimate “yogi secret”, I was faced with the realization that my excuses were wearing thin. I had to try, and I had to try soon. If I didn’t, how could I know that it is not possible? I had to switch off every part of my brain that told me that what I wanted to do was physically challenging, if not impossible, and try.

I can kick up into a handstand.

I can kick up into a handstand.

I can kick up into a handstand.

My initial attempts were in the safety and comfort of my own living room, alone and away from the professional handstanders that seem to be popping up (or rather piking up) everywhere in my life. I thought it best to start against the wall for support, so that if worst came to worst I wouldn’t end up flat on my back. I spaced out my hands, took a deep breath and attempted to kick up — and got about 12 inches of the ground. Ok try again… and again… and again… and again… breathe… try again… and again… Finally I started to build momentum, I was slowly getting my legs higher and higher off the ground and up on top of my shoulders, until finally the momentum erupted — I smacked my feet into the wall with an almighty thud and crashed back down to the ground into a heap. I sat up, looked around and… smiled. I was alive, I was uninjured (well, mostly but I think the wall came off second best…) and for about 3.7 seconds I was inverted. I could do it! It was not longer a pipe dream!

Next class when it came time for inversion work I proudly moved my block and started practicing my pikes in front of other people with the confidence of a Russian gymnast. I looked around at my fellow yogi’s and smiled, yes I thought I am one of you! Sometimes the most rewarding outcomes and best experiences stem from when you turn off the voice that says you can’t, take a deep breath and just do it anyway. Have a go, take the risk, invert your life — you might even find part of yourself that you never knew existed. And if all else fails, just kick up into a handstand and I promise you will see the world from a different point of view. 

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