For a long time I’ve known that handstands within the Yoga community- at least in Vancouver, BC and the surrounding area where I spend the majority of my time teaching and practicing- is a destination pose. If you can’t do it, you want to be able to do it. It’s a goal. Envy is involved. Not for everyone perhaps, but for many.
I practice handstands in class. I teach handstands in class. In one of my handstand classes last weekend, a woman told me that even outside of the yoga community (which I know little about!), handstands are the “it” thing right now. Everyone wants to learn how to do them.
I’m currently reading Glennon Doyle Melton’s book Carry On, Warrior and in it she comments: “I’d find myself in the middle of a lighthearted conversation with a woman I’d just met, and the woman would make a joke that didn’t sound like a joke, suggesting that our family was ‘perfect’ and that this ‘perfection’ made her feel bad about her own family. This happened three or four times over a two-week period. Once, a woman said, ‘You are so pulled together. It makes me feel so apart.’
Melton continues: “I do not like to make other women feel less than.”
This is how I feel about handstands. I do not like to make anyone feel less than. Knowing that many want to be able to handstand (or do certain handstand variations) and cannot, however, I realize this is entirely possible, even likely.
In class I talk regularly about why I handstand and why I teach handstands, but because I’m posting a lot more online about handstands now, I feel the need to clarify why I do what I do. Because I don’t want to make anyone feel less than. Ever. I do not want to contribute to the need to compete or be better than anyone else; I do not want to contribute to the sadness or anger or negativity in the world. Handstands, if we’re feeling envy and jealousy, can do just that. So, I’m here to clarify why I handstand and why I teach handstands.
Why I handstand can be found in my blog Lightness & Laughter in Handstand:
“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 neighbour 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.”
Why I teach handstands. I am a mom living in North Vancouver. Most of the conversations I have are with moms, and if you’ve ever had a deep conversation with a mom, their/our shit is real. Everything from postpartum depression to divorce, to potential ADHD diagnoses and the challenging decision to pay for a diagnosis that could- depending on the situation and your beliefs- benefit or harm your child, the decision to medicate for ADHD or find ways to help your child manage their jitters, to aging parents, to how to work and raise children and find that balance without fucking up your children or completely losing your identity, to making enough money to live where we live, to maintaining a marriage that you believe in and actually want to be a part of, when all you really want to do right now is crash and go to sleep or watch Netflix. And then recognizing that almost everything I said above comes from a place of complete privilege. The ability to think about and pay for counselling, for divorce, the ability to pay for a diagnosis and medication, the ability to put our parents in a home or choose to work or “go out on dates,” the ability to sit and watch Netflix. If you’ve read this far, I’m hoping you now feel enough stress and pressure to understand why letting that shit go for a bit to play upside down feels FANTASTIC.
So that’s why I teach handstands. Because seeing moms and other people who have a lot to look after in their lives, laugh and fall and have fun and cartwheel and let go and have the courage to face their fears is incredible. It is inspiring.
It is my greatest hope in sharing handstand tips and blogs online and leading workshops and series that these be inspiring and fun and so much more about the journey than the destination.