by Lisa Stowe
I have trouble letting go – letting go of frustration, anger, and sadness. I even have trouble fully relaxing into unambiguously nice things like massage. But yoga has helped me to let go. To be in the current moment, not the next one, or a moment that happened last week. But sometimes, despite my best efforts (or perhaps because of them) I seem to be in every moment but the present. I particularly feel this way whenever mats go to the wall and it is time to go upside down.
I am a type A, goal oriented person. A stated goal, along with a path to get there, is highly motivational. In many aspects of my life, this has worked splendidly. Academic efforts have generally been rewarded with success – I solve integrals, take derivatives, or develop a model like no one’s business. I’ve had continued success professionally. My kids’ bedroom maintains order despite the efforts of my boys (husband included). But this same determination breaks down when it comes to standing on my hands (or head, or forearms).
I look at inversions as a process with building blocks and steps along the way. Core strength? Check. Upper body strength? Check. Balance? Check. And so the list goes on. But when it comes time to put it all together, I freeze. I hesitate. And I stay upright, firmly on my feet. Yet I see others go into these poses with ease, and I get frustrated.
I don’t think it is humanly possible to dissect handstand any more than I have, yet I still need an assist getting upside down. One year ago, I had fully expected to be rocking handstand by now. Yet I’m not, and this failure to meet a goal is . . . okay. Fine, so I’m not a fabulous inverter, but I’ve come so far in other areas. I’m stronger, and love to arm balance. My down dog is now a different breed that does not have hunched shoulders. My angles are straighter, deeper, and more extended in extended side angle.
Most of all, I’ve learned to appreciate where I am now, and not to obsess about where I’m not. Now this does not mean that I’m not setting goals – it just means that maybe it will take me longer to reach my handstand goal. And instead of lamenting my inability to rock the pose, I’ll celebrate the other achievements along the way.