Inversions. Depending on who you are this word might incite fear, calm your nerves or somewhere on that spectrum. For me, just by hearing the word inversion my hearts beats a little faster.
I have always been afraid of being upside down. You might be thinking, hmm that is an oddly specific fear. So let me step back a little and give you some background on why I possess this deeply rooted fear. It all started with a basketball.
When I was nine, I was playing basketball in the neighborhood with my brother when it landed on my head. Now thinking back, I’m sure being hit by a basketball is quite a tame experience. I doubt if any of you got hit by a basketball today would be traumatized by the ordeal. But here I am, a nine-year-old me who from that day on became deeply afraid of anything falling on my head.
Keep in mind here, I was an active kid. I did dance, gymnastics (which yes, included many cartwheels, back handsprings and inversions of all kinds) and all sorts of other activities. Kids don’t have a preconceived notion of what is to come, so learning how to flip and hold myself upside down came as naturally to me as every other motor skill. But fast-forward a couple years, and the fear started to kick in.
This brings me back to the past week at my yoga teacher training course. Since picking yoga a couple years ago to supplement my dance training, I have noticed a myriad of benefits. Many poses came naturally to me due to my dance training, and I gained strength in my arms and upper body — areas normally neglected by dancers. But the one thing I dreaded towards the end of every session was sirasana (yes the dreaded headstand). What was once a fairly standard warmup in my toddlers gymnastics class had grown into a demon of its own.
Every yoga instructor and dance teacher I’ve had has told me that getting into inversions was only as hard as it is to get over your fear of being upside down. Okay easier said than done. I was the one who couldn’t even get her legs up the wall in a yoga class. But I’m telling you, in just the first week of the course, I overcame my fear of inversions. The teachers at the yoga teachers training course were right. The most valuable piece of advice that helped me finally jump over that mental hurdle was to not fear falling. Satya advised us that after a few times falling, we would learn that falling isn’t so scary after all. She was right, with this new mindset, I went home and practiced my headstands on my bedroom wall and the thought of losing balance out of an inversion didn’t scare me anymore.
So for all of you out there struggling to get up into your headstand, I hope this little story gave you an ounce of motivation to keep trying, and if not I hope you were at least mildly entertained by my ramblings.