Dear Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand),
I want to start my letter by simply saying “thank you.” In yoga, the asanas or poses are meant to ask questions. Yoga is so much more than the physical work and for that I am grateful. You, my friend, have probably taught me the most. The interesting part is that I cannot hold you just the way I want to…. Yet.
You see, physically, I have everything needed to perform handstand push-ups and more! Challenge me with a crazy arm balance and the next thing you know – I will be breakdancing with it. Display a wild heart opener and I will be the first one in line to give it a go. Show me a quirky twist and I will turn myself into a pretzel.
Sigh. That being said, this is not the case with handstand. Adho Mukha Vrksasana, you scare and frustrate me; however, I thank you because you have caused me to dig deep. I am not afraid of falling on my face, which is inventible at times in our practice no matter how safe and careful we are, but instead I am afraid (more like petrified) of failing. It was you, wise asana that brought this to the surface for me.
As I have written about before, I work very hard and with this dedication I typically “master” what I set out to conquer. Adho Mukha Vrksasana has been the first asana that without a fair yet reasonable amount of time, I have yet to accomplish. I try the variations, use the wall and a friendly assist, but I still lack the confidence in myself to hold the pose on my own.
Does this mean I’m a bad student? No. Does this mean I’m an unfit teacher of the practice? Absolutely not.
Instead, I believe Adho Mukha Vrksasana was purposely placed into my personal practice to stir the following questions inside me:
- Why am I afraid of my imperfections?
- Why am I forcing the asana?
- Why am I fearful of a new perspective (both literally being upside-down and figuratively)?
- Why am I questioning my own strength when I know I am capable?
- Why do I doubt myself?
I am sure more questions will come with each handstand attempt.
Notice that I say “yet” to accomplish. I know my time will come. One day I will look back and chuckle at the uncertainty Adho Mukha Vrksasana has brought me. I will also reflect and appreciate how much the pose has challenged me to assess myself and understand my fears. Despite not having a flawless handstand, the pose has opened me up to so much more. This educational journey and connection is truly the art and practice of yoga.
Adho Mukha Vrksasana, I love you for what you have taught me and what you will continue to teach me. Here’s to years of friendship and for giving me a new outlook on the world.
Love & Namaste,