Tag Archives: handstand

30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 27: Be Strong: Let Go


Welcome to Day 27 of my blog series based on Judith Hanson Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.”

I try to keep these posts to about 500 words.

Here is the quote:

April 21 — Let go into your strength. We think that strength is about being able to push something away or hold something back. We have great reserves of strength, which can be used in different ways. Inhale, and let go into the strength you already have to do Adho Mukha Vrkasana (handstand) or to create an hour with no commitments.

I’ll take “create an hour with no commitments” for $400, Alex.

I’m not gonna fib here: handstand is not easy. For many reasons, but most of all, it does require a great deal of upper body strength, core awareness and emotional guts. The pose should be started at a wall for best results the first few times. You’re in downward facing dog, getting used to being inverted. Then you tip-toe your feet to be about a foot away from your hands or make it so your hips are almost vertically above your shoulders. Then you play with your balance a little by kicking up (gently) one leg, then the other leg. Doing this helps you understand which leg is your “push off” leg and which leg is your anchor. When you’re familiar with that and feeling safe (next month), then you really push off with the kick-off leg and you aim both feet for the wall.

THUD! THUD! Contact!

Forget about the pressure in the shoulders it will be there the whole time. Instead, do something with them:  “press” them to reach toward the hips (so now that’s “up”) and pull in the belly. Breathe. Sense the blood flooding your body in the opposite direction it’s used to going. If you’re still up, YAY! Come down and fold into child’s pose with your knees wide and your big toes touching, hips sinking toward the floor for a few breaths. Try it again if you’re game. Just remember to go back to child’s pose when you’re finished.

My issue with handstand is that I go too far over. I have the strength to stand on my hands, but I still lack the poise to control my thighs from going all the way over. I need the wall, but I’m getting better at it. I also think it’s a matter of context: when I’m all alone, I have an easier time, but when I’m in class as a student or a teacher, I feel stressed and I goof it.

So the strength in this pose has more to do with initial control and poise than it does staying in it. It’s like that moment when Scarlett O’Hara walked into the party after her scandalous kiss that Rhett saw her give to Ashley Wilkes… she possessed great strength to go in that room (I think she was also a total jerk for doing what she did) after that kiss, dressed like a harlot. Who possessed more strength? Melanie Wilkes. Class act, that Miss Melanie.

this moment. i loved scarlett's moxie, but melanie was really the winner.

this moment. i loved scarlett’s moxie, but melanie was really the winner.

What does any of this have to do with yoga? I guess a lot. If you’re in my head.

The point of it is that we often see Scarlett as this super-strong, super resilient woman; and she was. But she was also a total antisocial, histrionic bitch. She thrusts into situations, being strong, surely, but not at all poised and controlled.

Melanie, who was a calm and controlled person was not a fool, I’m sure she knew what was going on. She just possessed more couth and courage.

So going into handstand or … s I said when I started this post, ‘I’ll take ‘create an hour with no commitments’ for $400, Alex.”

That’s hard too though — to allow an hour with no agenda or no feeling for the need of an agenda or activity. I think that’s the thrust here: to have the strength of self enough to let go of the need to do something of “value.” It’s our egos which tell us we have to be doing something all the time; its our brains and minds who need the rest.

What would you do? Read? Nap?

Zzzzzzngnnnnnzzzz Gnnnzznzznnng.

Thank you.