Headstand High

“Now just kick up”, the petite instructor says with her nasal accent.

There are just four of us on this rainy evening. Warm blues, reds, and oranges flood the eyes while candles flicker and drip away. The other yogis are sharing the wall across the room. Yet I, I am relegated to the front wall. Mindfully seperate and mindful not to practice too near the mural of Ganesh.

“Place your crown on the floor, not your forehead, and do not roll back on your head. Lock your hands together, a few inches from the wall and go into  downward facing dog”.

She comes over to me, briskly saying, “Walk your feet closer. Closer. Closer.“, I swear my hamstrings will snap. “Now kick”.

I do. This part I’m used to, and have done a handful of times before.

She takes my ‘loose’ leg and strongly places it against the wall.

Then she walks away.

I’m mentally paralyzed. What just happened? Why aren’t you standing next to me until I’m ready to release? Then, upsidedown I think, just enjoy it.

I strangely don’t fixate on my friend C who has spent the summer in a cast after breaking her foot coming out of one of these. Or C’s friend who hurt her wrist upon landing.  While teaching a class!

I just think how cool this is. How crazy it feels to have all the blood rushing opposite its normal flow, how it seems like I can even feel my organs. How it doesn’t hurt my always tight shoulders or make my neck sore.

How indicative it is of my life.

You see, last year, 2011, turned my life upside down. Insomnia, my mom’s diagnosis, a deep betrayal, plucked me out of the world I knew and loved. Realizing this late in the fall of last year, I asked C to help me with a goal.

“I want to learn how to do a headstand, either on my own or at least on my own on a wall” I said. “I want to do this because it is a great metaphor of my life this year, and one I want to remind myself to physically embrace”. She agreed.


Although I never realized that goal, I think about it every now and again. One day, I’d like to be able to do a headstand by myself.

But today? It’s metaphoric of my life yet again.

I need others.

Sure, I want to think that I can just jump from novice to yogi, or nascent being to full maturation. But it’s not that quick. And it’s rarely done alone. Right now, I realize the need for support in my life. I see that there is a delicate, even fluid balance of needing that strong hand to guide. As well as to let go when it is time. Even if I’m not ready.

For all of us: may the road be long, paved with good intentions and plenty of helping hands.



2 responses

  1. Really enjoyed this post. I like using physical actions as metaphors for what’s happening in my life; I think it can help me heal and process changes better when I can physically act them out. I ran my first 5k with my Jesuit Volunteer Corps roommates at the end of our volunteer year and felt that we were (physically and metaphorically) finishing a long journey together — one we accomplished through companionship and mutual support.

    • Thanks, Mary! I love your reflection on the 5k. Seeing the connections to our physical being reminds me how this world is truly inter-being.
      And I love that our communities still connect! Petro just called to chat about this post- what a joy!

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