Six Life Lessons I Learned from Doing Inversions
After practicing yoga for eleven years, I finally took the plunge and got my teaching certification in 2014. The few months leading up to my yoga teacher training and throughout the training I became obsessed with inversions. I quickly learned how to do supported headstand, tripod headstand and supported shoulder stand. These inversions were weaved into many of the vinyasa classes I attended.
So they came pretty easy after a few weeks of practice. Up until a year and a half ago, handstand was pretty far out of reach. It seemed so easy when I saw others doing it but for me, it didn't come easily. This was especially true after having a baby and suffering from abdominal separation. My core strength was hindered and it has taken a long time to regain half the strength I had before. Rebuilding core strength is harder than you would think. Aside from all that, I learned six life lessons from practicing inversions everyday, for 108 days.
Yoga Tip: It's easy to incorporate inversions into any yoga practice. Not all inversions have to be difficult or fancy. Inversions like downward facing dog or supported shoulder stand are super easy to incorporate into beginner or advanced yoga practices.
Six things I learned from my 108 days of inversions:
Compassion: At times, I can get upset with myself for not having the strength or ability to do a certain pose. In doing this challenge, I learned that it's totally okay to suck at a pose. The more compassion and lighthearted feeling I have toward my self, the more I realize that everyone has to start at the beginning. To be a master takes years of practice. Although there's always room for improvement.
Flexibility: When inverting, there is always some uncertainty. I'm a runner and feel very comfortable on my feet. Trying to stay balanced on hands, forearms or my head is much more difficult. I have to accept the unknown every time I kick up or invert. In life, obstacles come and go. The only thing I can control is my response to events, situations and people. Learning to go with the flow and ride it out is a priceless lesson.
Repetition is a Good Thing: Since college, I have gone through stages in my life where I craved change. Doing the same thing everyday can be such a bore. When I was a school teacher, I had each day planned down to the minute because children need routine. Now that I am teaching yoga, I try to vary my classes every time. I like to keep it fresh and challenge different muscles each class. While change is great and welcomed in a lot of situations, practicing the same poses like handstand, each day is also beneficial. Repeating the same inversions every day for 108 days allowed me to see my weaknesses and watch my growth.
Increased strength: I was surprised by how quickly my strength and form improved over the 108 days. Upper body and core strength are a must when practicing inversions and the more I practice them, the stronger I become.
Energy and Clarity improve: Often times I feel tired mid morning or early afternoon. Doing inversions gives me a little pick-me-up with out having to turn to caffeine. During these times I also notice I don't think as clearly. Getting my feet up, helps me clear my thoughts and see things differently, literally.
Be Present: Performing most yoga poses requires mental presence. Inversions are no exception. Being present at any given moment can be a struggle. Thinking about the past or what's to come is part of being human. Getting into an inversion like handstand or headstand causes the mind to focus on the present moment. I love the intensity of inversions but the calm and peace it brings is equally amazing. Everything else fades away for those few moments.
Using these six life lessons makes daily living so much easier. Having a toddler, being a stay at home mom, being a yoga teacher and a good partner all require a lot of compassion, flexibility, energy and clarity. Raising a toddler requires a lot of repetition which can be challenging, I mean saying the same thing numerous times or having to play the same song 10 times in a row, can get old. However the repetition makes the day go smoother and remaining flexible is a key aspect of having so many roles in life.