I started standing on my hands when I was a kid. I was a competitive gymnast. I wasn’t an excellent gymnast, my strength could not tame my flexibility (working on that in my yoga practice…), but it did make asana easier when I started practicing yoga.
Many judge my practice. I’ve been told I’m intimidating. When I first started practicing yoga, I usually came to my mat and cried for the duration of the 60, 75 or 90minute class. In 2006, my son Trey was diagnosed with MPS II or Hunter Syndrome- a rare and progressive disease, and I was told he would either live with some physical challenges or like two thirds of kids with the diagnosis, decline mentally until he reached a vegetative state and die in his teens, and we didn’t know which type he had. I was struggling to breathe, to put it mildly.
The only times I stopped crying in class were when I was upside down or on my hands because I was concentrating on not falling instead of thinking about how scared I was for the future. Falling out the open door in the summer or tumbling off my mat to gaze up at my neighbor in down dog while I was flat on my back made me laugh. It was the only time I did laugh. It was funny when the rest of life was so serious.
For the most part, I kept to myself at the yoga studio and in class because meeting people with puffy eyes and emotional instability wasn’t my thing. I did talk to teachers, but usually wound up crying in front of them too (surprising that studio ended up hiring me as a teacher years later ;-)).
Slowly, I started to meet a few people and I began to hear what other people thought of my practice. When I first heard I was intimidating, I got angry. I wasn’t there to impress or perform, I was showing up on my mat to process and let go. It didn’t even occur to me to think about what others thought of me, I was just doing my own thing. I was angry because my safe space had become a place of judgment. It didn’t feel safe anymore. I couldn’t process or let go because I knew people were watching. During a conversation with an insightful teacher friend of mine, she told me that people’s judgment isn’t about me, it’s about them. I can’t control what other people think or do. It is in my control and my work to let go of what other people think. I’m starting to realize that everything is about letting go! Her message stuck with me and I was able to find my safe space again.
I’m teaching a workshop on Handstands at YYoga Northshore Elements on Saturday, December 13, 2014 and I’m jazzed. I’m jazzed because I know many people who want to learn variations of handstand and I HOPE that what I know and will share will help them find it! I’m jazzed because I want to create an atmosphere where handstands aren’t a destination or a pinnacle (or better than any other posture), but a journey. I’m jazzed because handstands and arm balances- the FUN stuff in yoga- is what helped me find those good moments in life again. The handstands and arm balances are what inspire laughter and lightness in my practice. I hope even more that I can help people find that. The fun. The laughter. The lightness. The freedom. On our mats AND in the rest of our lives.