Lions and Tigers and Handstand, Oh My!

I just got home from an intense weekend of Yoga Teacher Training.  I have such a love/hate relationship with these weekends.  This weekend was EXACTLY what I needed to refocus what is important in my life: my loved ones, my health and my sanity.  I started to write about my love/hate relationship with the teacher training weekends, but as soon as I wrote it, I realized that it wasn’t really true.  There is no doubt that these weekends are draining; we complete a physical asana practice for 2.5-3 hours each day, and then do a lot of book/lecture type learning and posture labs.  Yoga teacher training is not easy (and I’m glad of that, or ANYONE could be a yoga teacher), and the weekends are quite taxing on both a physical and mental level.  I’m finding this especially difficult given how hectic the rest of my life has been as of late, but I really believe that the training is also exactly what I need to slow down my life (even if it is a lot of extra work right now!).  This weekend has reminded me how important yoga has become for me, and even though I’ve been busy lately, yoga really isn’t the thing that I want to let slide in order to make room for it all.  Why not?  Well that answer is simple:  when life is hectic, yoga (and snuggling with my husband when we actually get to see each other!) is the only thing that brings peace and calmness to my crazy.  I learned today that the way to change your practice for the better is to practice vigorously, often and for a long time.  The vigorous and the often I can make happen right now, and the long time will only come if I continue to practice!  I can – and WILL – make adjustments in other ways so that I can continue to improve my practice – that is what is right for me right now.

Learning from Catherine Munro – who is unbelievably amazing – is so perfect for me, because even though I wish I was familiar with more of the poses already (like most of the others in my class are), I also realize that I have the benefit of learning these new poses the right way the very first time I do them.  That means that my practice will continue to improve, and I can be confident that I am receiving excellent instruction every time I go for another weekend of training.  Plus, she works us REALLY hard, so I can be sure that I am building strength and burning calories every single time I take a class with Catherine!

We worked on inversions this weekend, specifically Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand), Sirsasana (Headstand) and Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand – pictured to the left).  With the exception of trying an assisted handstand in a workshop a few months ago with Catherine, I had never done any of these poses before this weekend.  They were terrifying, but I got up into all of them (with help, obviously – I don’t think it’s actually possible to do this shit without assistance unless you’ve been practicing for a WHILE!).  Apparently Handstand is the pose that is most frightening for the majority of people, but I wasn’t that nervous about it.  I found it kind of exciting, actually, and like the others, it was very invigorating.  The pose that freaked me out more than any other was Pincha; maybe because the floor was so close to my face, I was afraid my nose was going to smash down into the hardwood…but it didn’t, so we’re all good.  I will definitely be practicing this pose (and the others, too) in order to gain some confidence with it.  The biggest obstacle that I see here is needing help to get up into the pose, and since I don’t practice in a yoga studio, and my husband is out-of-town for work a lot, that might be tough.  I WILL find a way, though.  If you happen to stop by for a visit, I might just put you to work helping me to get my legs in the air!

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4 thoughts on “Lions and Tigers and Handstand, Oh My!

  1. welcome to the world of inversions! word of warning though, about 4 years ago (it took me about 6 years to do a class where inversions other than shoulder stand were ‘normal’) I did smash my face down when trying to go into Pincha Mayurasana from headstand. I broke my nose. so, do be careful…

    • Hmm…I’m not sure I approve of moving into Pincha from headstand; because your head is on the floor, your neck is in a pretty precarious position and you aren’t supposed to do anything that will put that in danger. I will have to ask Catherine about that, but it seems counterintuitive to me. I DO plan to be careful – inversions take a great deal of strength, and are nothing to “shake a stick at.” It will definitely be part of a long journey for me to become really confident with these asanas. Sorry to hear about your nose!

  2. have you heard of dolphin? that is a good pose for building up the shoulder strength you need to hang out in most of these poses. I also just bought a wobble board for rehab to my sprained ankle and I think this might help with core strength needed to float into handstand and stay there.

    • Yes indeed! Dolphin is usually a prep pose for these inversions, and we worked on it this weekend as well. Good luck with the wobble board – it should help with core strength, which we all need in spades!

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