Always had this yen to do a hand stand or head stand. Hey, I am coordinated and have a really strong upper body. Now that I have been seriously trying to accomplish this before my 63rd birthday (so i can enjoy the SUP handstand this summer) I realize there’s something lacking. Probably – balance.
Like you, I enjoy balance in my life. It takes awareness and practice to gain actual balance and balance in the body as a metaphor. For even the most grounded and centered person, the body can only stay consistently in that state fora short time. We breathe, we move, life changes. With the movement of the breath comes movement in the body, and in our lives. And with this ever present force keeping us alive and creating movement, to find balance requires the ability to maintain focus on one thing in order to minimize the swing of the pendulum. Not one thing only, but one thing at a time. I try to stay aware – how will this help me with that hand stand or head stand?
To be balanced we need to first be centered, balancing the right and the left and the front and back hemispheres of our body along the centerline axis. In my Bikram and other yoga practice that’s a common routine for every pose. Each instruction and movement is designed to draw the body parts and energy in to the center of the body. Wobbly and wiggly – I do give it all my effort and love the outcomes. Even a teeny percent of improvement is a celebration – but is it getting me close to that headstand goal?
Focal points, visual or mental, serve as anchors for the mind and the body. In virtually every balance posture, yoga teachers tell us what to look at as we begin the posture. We use that visual focal point as an anchor to hold our attention in place. Using a mantra, a single word or short phrase that gets repeated over and over either out loud or within the mind, is a form of meditation that serves as an anchor and to eliminate the mind chatter. My mantra? ‘Lock the knee lock the knee lock the knee breathe breathe breathe.” With all of these methods, the goal is to create single pointed focus of mind and intention. Ahhh, intention! There’s the magic.
During the practice of Yoga exercises, we not only relax the muscles but we also build up strength, structure and stability in the right spots. In Head Stand, (I want to learn the Sirshasana) you build up power and structure in both the neck and the upper back and at the same time, you train your arm muscles and coordination. But there is more. With intention toward one day enjoying a head stand on my paddleboard I will take a journey through many many stages and steps. I will need the support and instruction from others. I will need to practice other moves, breathing, balance, strength and flexibility along the way.
As lame as I am in completing the Sirshasana today I have the intent and a vision of a clear blue lake or mirrored ocean with me balanced (however precariously) on the foundation of my own forearms and head. Reframing the goal – the headstand on the paddleboard- into a journey makes the entire process a practice. One day the journey will be punctuated with a splash and a full on wet ending to the balancing act. And the journey will continue.