“Yo this is story all about how my life got flipped right upside down.” -The Fresh Prince
There have been countless moments in my life where I’ve felt like everything I’ve known to be true and/or comfortable has been flipped on its head. Some of these key moments include my freshman year of college in a big new city, the first time I ever traveled to a developing country, the first time I had my heart broken, the few (very special) times I met and connected deeply with soul friends, the first time I felt my beliefs lined up with those of an organized religion (!), my first yoga class, the first time I felt like my life was unplanned and completely up to my discretion, and most recently, my first headstand!
I can still remember the day I “got into yoga.” My good friend and I were studying at a café and we decided that we should take a yoga class that evening to unwind and let go of all the stresses brought on by our fully loaded schedules. Like any good generation-y children would do, we Google searched yoga studios in the San Francisco area, and booked ourselves for the evening class at The Yoga Garden. That one class was all it took for me to become a sort of yoga addict. The Yoga Garden, and it’s community of wonderful teachers and zen yogis and yoginis became my refuge from the daily onslaught of school and work, and an place where some beautiful friendships blossomed like lotus flowers. It was also the place where I began to track my slow (but steady) mental, physical, and emotional progress.
My yoga journey, like any good journey, has had its ups and downs. At the beginning, I was practicing 3-4 days a week at the Yoga Garden under the supervision of some of some incredible, loving and experienced teachers. I saw my physical form change, my concentration deepen, and my heart open. I practiced regularly for a year and a half before I left San Francisco and relocated to France.
If SF was a peak, France was a valley. My practice became stagnant, I slept constantly creating knots in my once supple shoulders, and almost all together gave up my practice. And then, as fate would have it, I found myself months later in a bar in NYC where I had a chance meeting with one of my aforementioned soul friends. He encouraged me back to my mat, and for that I am eternally grateful to him. I practiced all summer long, surrounded by all the leafy green vegetation that beautiful Vermont has to offer, and in no time I was climbing back up a new, very different yoga peak.
Now, here I am, three continents later, hanging out upside down in Morocco. Yes! I finally (FINALLY!) did my first headstand. This is how it all transpired: I was scared. I kicked off. I hovered. SO CLOSE. Then I fell flat on the tile floor. Fuck. But I knew I was almost there… and I knew I needed to trust myself more. So I prepped myself again. I kicked off. My feet hit the wall behind me. I did it! I had the support of the wall, but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day… and support is a good thing anyway. When I came down my face was flushed and I was so proud I literally wanted to high five myself.
The headstand (according to my Google search) is the king of the asana poses, as it represents the masculine qualities of will power, clarity of thought and sharpness of the brain. It should shortly thereafter be balanced by the feminine shoulder stand which creates harmony and happiness. Who knew that these two inversions could bring such wonderful benefits to my life!?
I’m grateful for this new knowledge and this new level of my yoga practice. I’m certain that it will be very useful upon my next scary life transition, where I can most certainly expect to have everything I know to be true and comfortable flipped on its head. Whatever the challenge or the fear, I now know that if I trust — even if I fall — turning my life upside can be an exhilarating and deeply gratifying experience.