If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough

A while back, I saw that written over a picture of a girl doing a headstand and I thought “yes! This is exactly it. This is what I want.” I tell everyone that I’ll do a headstand one day. Any inversion, really, but the headstand is my goal.

However, I realized I talk a lot, but I don’t do much. I’m happy when we practice arm balances in class, because that’s where I need to start. But what about all the classes I go to that don’t have arm balances? Or the days when I don’t practice at all?

At the begining of the month, I wrote about challenges. I love a good challenge, but it has to mean something, it has to lead somewhere. That’s when I rememebered my headstand, and my arm balance challenge was born. It’s pretty simple. Do one arm balance pose a day. That’s it. Oh, and take a picture. Because I like pictures.

Sometimes, I can only hold the pose for the few seconds it takes for the picture to be taken. But that’s ok. It’s better than not doing anything at all.

Here’s what I’ve got so far.

February 3rd – crow pose

I started off with my favourite, because it’s the easiest for me.

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February 4th – side crow

In a skirt, no less.

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February 5th – Eight angle pose

In my bird dress and feather necklace (it’s a whole avian concept, in case you don’t get it). This pose needs a lot of work. I know you can’t see my feet, but I assure you they’re not on the ground. My arms are the only thing holding me up.

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February 6th – shoulder-pressing pose

I don’t like this picture. The angle is weird. But the only other picture I have from this day is me falling out of crow pose. I have a big bruise on my knee now. This pose is difficult because I always feel like either my arms are too short or my butt is too heavy. Let’s go with the arms. Also, my legs really are nowhere near my shoulders. something else to work on.

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February 7th – teddy bear headstand

I’m not sure if this is the actual name for this pose, but I like it. It’s cute.

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February 8th – crow pose

This is the crow pose that almost wasn’t. I forgot to do my pose of the day until I was going to bed, so I was tired and cranky. I could barely lift my toes up off the ground.

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February 9th – scissors pose

Again, not sure if this is the right name. It looks like my head is on the ground, but it’s not, it’s just my hair. I see the placement of my left arm is a little off. This one is hard, but it’s one of my favourites.

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I’m enjoying this challenge so far. Some days, I don’t really feel like it, but after I’ve done it, I feel really proud of myself, even if I fall over. I like taking pictures because it’s like a mirror. I can see exactly what I need to work on. It’s one thing to feel the pose, but sometimes, seeing it helps too.

Teddy bear headstand

My 30-day yoga challenge is coming to an end, and I’ve learned two very important things. More than two things, actually. But here are two of them.

1. I love yoga (I knew this, but now it’s reaffirmed. Again.)

2. I love other things too. I love running, reading, baking, my friends, my family. I haven’t had much time for any of these things for most of September.

This past week has been the most challenging. Motivation was down and grumpiness was up. Last night’s class was a perfect example of the low-energy practice that has been annoying me. On my way home, I told myself to suck it up. There were only three days left to the challenge and I had two choices: finish kicking and screaming (ok, more like whining and dragging my feet) or give it all I’ve got left.

I chose option 2. (Not finishing was never an option.)

With this new determination to just enjoy myself and make the most of it, I went to a power class with Laurie after work. I love Laurie’s classes.

When we did crow pose, she said we could bring our head down and stand in tripod. Then we could bring our legs up into a tripod headstand. My first reaction was “No way! I’ll smash my head into the floor and that will not go well with the whole fun vibe I’ve got going on here.”

I hesitated for just a second, then I went for it. It looked something like this. (The placement of my legs on my arms is a little off, but I took these pictures when I came home and I was trying to do it fast so I could shower and eat. I was starving!)

First crow.

Then teddy bear headstand. How cute is that? (The name, not my butt up in the air.)

I’m actually a little disappointed in this picture, because it looks nowhere near as awesome as it felt. During my pity-party practice last night, I had an Eeyore moment during standing splits where I thought “I’ll never do a headstand.” This pose made me realize that I’ll get there one day. I tried lifting my legs up off my arms, but they were not moving. One step at a time!

The road to headstands is paved with pillows

If you want to flip upside down, you’re going to fall a lot before you get there. I’m very motivated to one day do a headstand. Or a handstand. Or anything that gets me upside down. But that means I fall down all the time.

I read on someone’s blog that she wanted to do a handstand one day, so she did crow every day and practiced cartwheels in the park. I don’t remember which blog it was, or I would post a link. I thought this was a great idea. Well, the crow part, not so much the cartwheel part. You see, I can’t do a cartwheel. I never could. When I was a kid, I spent entire summers trying so hard to get my legs up as I wheeled myself around, down a hill, on the beach, in the grass, everywhere. It just never worked. I’d be willing to try again, but I’m way more self-conscious now.

So, back to crow. I now have a yoga mat set up in my spare bedroom, so I decided to try doing crow pose every day. I usually look like this.

But sometimes, more and more often, I actually get into it, and stay there. Not very long, but a few months ago, crow wasn’t even a part of my practice, so I’m pretty happy with myself!

Then, today, I went to a really great power flow yoga class with Todd. We did a lot of poses to build strength. One thing I really appreciated was that it didn’t feel as hot as it ususally does. I do love the heat, but when you’re trying new things, it’s nice to feel the heat a little less. I was still melting, but like a popsicle, not lava.

We did some kick-ups (I think that’s what it was called) to practice getting into a forearm stand or a handstand. We had our arms or hands on the mat, looked down, kicked up one leg, then the other, before bringing them down. In my case, it was more momentum than anything else, but I liked the feeling of having more weight on my hands or arms. When the whole class was doing it, we sounded like elephants trying to Riverdance, but it created a great energy.

I didn’t do anything perfectly today, which is why it was such a great class. I had fun, I laughed, I fell. I’m really enjoying where I am in my practice. I’m happy about that, because wishing I was somewhere else would just make everything a lot harder. Bring on the inversions! (And the pillows!)

Fearless flow

Over the weekend, I was talking about my yoga classes with my mom, and I mentioned that during a lot of classes, the teachers will say “Now is the time, if you are able, to do a headstand or a handstand.” It think that’s great, for those who know how to do inversions, but what about the rest of us? I doubted I could do it, but I would be willing to try. However, this is not something you can just start doing all alone in your living room. You need to know the proper way to get in and out of these poses. I decided I would ask the girls at the studio about this.

Then, yesterday, as I was looking at the schedule for the day, I decided to try one of the classes I can’t normally attend because I’m at work. (woohoo, day off!) I noticed something called fearless flow. It’s a class designed to get you into inversions! Just goes to show you, if you want something, you only have to ask for it. Actually, I didn’t ask, but whatever.

We learned how to do a headstand, which looks like this.

I looked more like this.

Actually, that’s not true. At least the kitty has both legs off the ground. I could either have my head touch the ground or have my legs straight, but not both at the same time. I felt like my arms, shoulders and head were very weak. I didn’t know my head could feel weak, but there’s a first time for everything. Just to clarify, I felt weak like I couldn’t support my weight, not weak like I was scared to try. I was very willing to go upside down, but my body said “No thanks, not today.”

I probably looked more like this. I’m not sure, because at some point, I stopped looking in the mirror.

I was a little disappointed, because even though I knew I wouldn’t get it on the first try, part of me secretly hoped I would. I need to work on my upper body strength, but one day, I will flip upside down. I am fearless!