The Handstand has been one of my greatest teachers. I have been working on this posture for a good two years, and while I have recently attained some level of proficiency, I would not say I am done learning. Nah-uh.
Handstand is one of those awesome postures that encourages us to really dig deep within and find out what we are made of, because it is such a complex and difficult asana. Remember, yoga is never as simple as it seems — you are always giving AND getting more than you expect.
Besides helping me to build strength, the process of learning handstand has taught me some valuable life lessons. These are the 5 life lessons I have learned from my "journey" with learning the Handstand:
1. I Can Trust My Core
When I actively engage my bandhas, I can float in handstand for several breaths. When I let my core go, there is almost always a comical tumble that follows.
Learning to really trust that my core can and will support me has been a huge life lesson. It not only means that my core can support me physically, but that I can trust my gut, my core, my intuition to support me in life. There is no greater sense of freedom than finally understanding that you have a foundation of strength and steady guidance within you at all times, just waiting to be accessed.
2. The Body Opens When It Is Ready
Handstand may look like it is all about power and strength, but it actually requires considerable opening in the shoulders and chest, and in the hips and legs if you are practicing pressing into handstand.
And so it is with life, it may seem like getting where you want to go in life is all about developing strength, but in reality you need a balance of strength and openness in order to experience all that there is to experience. Having an open heart in handstand is just as important as having an open heart in life. And you cannot rush your opening. The body opens in its time, just as your spirit does.
3. Don’t Overthink It
When I look at someone in handstand, it is really easy for my mind to say “what the heck? How is that even physically possible?” And this totally trips me up in my practice.
If I rest in Downward Dog thinking about every little joint and where it should be to get up into the posture, chances are I am not going to make it. But when I allow my muscle memory to take over and give my body space to be in charge rather than my mind, I find I can effortlessly float up.
In life, it is quite easy to overthink everything. We are trained to consider all options, to look both ways before we cross the street. This is not bad, but I think that there is still value in going with what is, not thinking more than is needed, and trusting the universe, or your body, to line up the way it is meant to.
4. Focus Is Key
If I have perfect hand placement, well-aligned arms and shoulders, my hips stacked over my shoulders, and my legs tightly scissored—I have about 90% of handstand down pat. But the problem is, if I have my head facing down, or too far forward, the posture is not going to happen.
If I am looking around the room, the posture is not going to happen. When I focus my gaze it will mean the difference between a sweet hang time, and falling on my face.
When you set your gaze to where you want to go, you're more likely to succeed than if you're looking around the “room” to see what everyone else is doing.~Ali Washington
Clear intention and focus will give you what you need to accomplish what you wish in this life, and I'm not just talking about handstand.
5. I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends
I have had a few teachers give me tools and techniques that catalyzed massive progress in my quest to stand on my hands. I have also employed the use of a wall or two in my journey.
I did not accomplish this posture on my own, and so it is with life! We get farther together than we ever will alone. Be open to the help of others, you may be surprised how much you progress together.
How did YOU learn to stand on your hands?