For over a year, I’ve been making a conscious effort to re-examine thoughts I have about myself, and to ease up on locking my limited self in boxes.
I did so last January when I morphed from the woman who couldn’t bear to think about LASIK to the woman who sees clearly now.
My recent perfect moment has to do with salamba sirsasana, more commonly known as headstand. And no, I didn’t do one.
One thing to know about salamba sirasana is that you don’t really stand on your head. The top of your head barely touches the ground. You’re supposed to balance instead on your forearms, so the pose requires shoulder and core strength. Like other inversion poses, headstand is terrific for circulation, for brain function, for digestion, and for seeing with a new perspective.
The box I had myself in?
- I hate being upside down.
- I couldn’t do a headstand even if I wanted to, which I don’t.
- I’m not strong enough.
- The pose is always going to be way beyond me.
I would watch enviously as my fellow yoginis (I’m looking at you!) would ease into salamba sirasana in the middle of the room as if it were no.big.deal. Watching them generated decidedly un-compassionate and un-yogic thoughts.
I spent 4 years practicing yoga before I peeked out of the box. About 6 months ago I ventured to try salamba sirasana against a wall. The first time I did so for about eight-tenths of a second. From one of the next 25 times I tried against the wall — each time getting a little longer — I ended up with a small burst blood vessel in my eye.
See? I said to my scared self. Safer to stay in the box.
But my brave self prevailed, and about 2 weeks ago I was able to not only maintain a headstand for several breaths against the wall, but also to move my feet away from the wall.
This was huge. I could now sense in my body what the pose feels like. I’ve got some muscle memory.
This week in a yoga class, I attempted salamba sirasana in the middle of the room. I didn’t get all the way up, but I was able to hoist both sets of toes off the mat, poised to pike up. It lasted eight-tenths of a second, but made the crack in the box that much bigger.
The goal is in sight. I know that someday soon I will add salamba sirasana to the list of asanas I can do.
This sense of progress and of mind over matter gave me a perfect moment.
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