October 16, 2012

Will sucking it up get you upside down?

Alexandra Samit doing AcroYoga (photo by Emily Kaiser)

The weekend arrives, and my main objective is to get to my favorite yoga class.

The weekend class is always crowded. I love it because the energy is high, it’s challenging and we all help each other.

This particular Saturday, I’m working on my handstands.

Pressing down on my mat, I move my feet as close to my hands as possible.

In my mind’s eye, I press down to go up. I want to pull in my belly and straddle my feet while raising them up to land a handstand.

This press handstand is new to me, and I am visualizing what I saw on YouTube.

Earlier, I was able to watch an incredible yogi demonstrate on a neighboring mat. She even gave me some pointers, like pushing my ponytail against the wall while upside down before lifting my feet.

I could push my ponytail alright, but the effort only resulted in a few funny looking bunny hops.

A week later, it’s my second at bat, and I am once again in my starting position—a very, very short down dog with my ponytail against the wall. I ready myself before trying to hoist my feet into a straddle handstand.

Hippity hop, once. My feet pop up a bit. Hippity hop, twice. They lift a bit more. A few more hops, and I get my feet to the point where I feel a momentary hang, but not one that counts for much.

The yogi beside me is jumping into a handstand. She is all over it and very inspiring.

Of late, I’ve been a handstand maniac.

In every vinyasa, we have the option to pop into a handstand and remain in one as long as we can. It gives the practice a twist, and I just love it.

I try to pretend there’s no mirrored wall standing guard, and sometimes I can land the handstand without it. I measure my success at the end of class by the number of toe prints on the mirror.

There’s more handstand news this Saturday morning, and it’s some advice for the handstand vinyasa. The instructions are to lift lightly off the mat. No scissor kick. No pop. We’re told to engage more in the core to find it.

This might sound silly but, for me, it’s all very exciting. Anything challenging is a yoga gift, and I’m eager to open these new presents.

Can I find some inner meaning in all this?

Nope, not yet.

The only inner anything I can figure is that I have to engage more of my core for success in these handstands.

“Suck it up!” advises a fellow yogi as I look down at my hands pressed to the mat with my feet inched up close.

Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha!” she explains further.

Bandhas are locks, and she’s telling me to lock the pelvic floor (Mula Bandha) and the abdomen (Uddiyana Bandha) before lifting off the ground.

My instructor comes along to add some guidance. I lock in everything and hoist myself up with a holler of triumph!

It works!

See? Mula Bhanda and Uddiyana Bhanda, my fellow yogi repeats.

I found more meaning in her earlier words.

Suck it up!

Sometimes, it’s simply what you have to do in order to get where you want to go.

Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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