Many of my students know about my handstand quest: for a reason I don't quite understand, I so desperately want to be able to do an "effortless" handstand. To hop or kick or lift up into a handstand in the middle of a room (or better yet: my front lawn) and hold it as long as I like, before gently lowering down. And so, I've been practicing. A lot. Natalie (my roommate) teases me as my feet bump against the wall, morning and night. I read up on articles on what muscles I have to strengthen and various techniques of practicing handstands. And, slowly (soooo soooo slowwwwwly) I am getting there. I'm not entirely sure where, but I'm getting somewhere.
A few weeks ago I had a revelation. I realized that handstand practice is like piano practice, not only in the dedication it takes, but also how we feel when we are "safe" (practicing) versus "exposed" (performing).
Occasionally in yoga class, the instructor will catch me as I'm hopping up and assist me in my efforts. This is tremendously encouraging and exciting, as it seems like I'm closer to my goal. I do remember one class in which the instructor was passing by just as I was jumping up, and I expected that he would catch me. He kept walking. I fell. I laughed, nervously, and followed the class into the next posture. Later in class, he said: we have to be willing to fall, to feel the ground, to take the risk, to know that even if someone doesn't catch us, we will be okay... and that we grow and strengthen from this process.
Elizabeth Borowsky is a pianist, teacher, and composer. She is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music in Piano (Music Teachers National Association).