Ever since I face-planted on the floor and hurt myself while attempting a crow pose 2 years ago, I have been wary of doing arm balances and inversions. I kept telling myself that “I’m not strong enough”, “My yoga practice is not so advanced yet”. Whenever I went for yoga classes and the teachers said that “If you have inversions in your practice, you may get into them now”, I will sit down and think to myself, “One day…but not today”.
Finally, in October last year, I decided to stop giving myself all these excuses and kick-started my inversion journey by going for an inversion class. It was a class on hollow back headstand and everyone was experienced except me. Thankfully, it was a very small class so the teacher was able to spend some time teaching me the basics such as hand and head placement, as well as how to prepare for a headstand. The dreaded moment came when he said, “XY, I want you to come up into a headstand now.” I swallowed my saliva, placed my arms and head on the mat, and up I went. My arms were shaking and my legs were flailing as I tried to make sense of this strange sensation of being upside down. Just when I felt that I was going to fall over, the teacher caught hold of my legs and there I was, in my first headstand. Yes, it was scary, but it wasn’t as scary as I’ve imagined it to be!
After that, the teacher taught me how to use the wall as a support, and that began my self-practice at home as I tried to get into a headstand on my own. Using the wall really helped me to gain confidence and feel comfortable being upside down. However, what really eliminated my fear of falling over was in fact, by falling over. Once, I toppled over while trying to do a headstand without the wall. After the initial shock, what surprised me more was how okay it felt. From then on, I was more daring to try the different inversion poses (even managed to kick into a handstand last week!).
What this headstand journey has taught me is that more often than not, what’s preventing us from achieving greater things in life are the mental barriers that we have created ourselves. Do not be scared to try new things, and more importantly, do not be afraid to fail. Once we’ve experienced what it feels to “fail”, we can better prepare ourselves to succeed in the next try.
From resting my butt on the wall to stretching my legs out and now trying to do the knee-tuck method without the wall, I’m still a long way from the perfect headstand. However, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved so far and I know that slowly but surely, I will get there. If I can do it, you can too 🙂