Thursday, February 3, 2011

Me vs. Headstand

With my knee injury, I've pretty much avoided all exercise except yoga.  And I feel good about that.  I think a week of low impact has been awesome (even though a stationary bike and/or elliptical are technically "low impact" as well, they're definitely more physically strenuous than yoga).

The thing about yoga at a big-ish studio is that there's quite a bit of difference between the different classes.  Depending on the teacher, the type of yoga, the class size, the length of time, etc., you can find yourself in two very different classes, even if they're both called "Vinyasa, All Levels."

I went to a class Tuesday with a historically good (challenging) teacher.  And the class was good.  But it maybe wasn't as challenging for me as it was for the 3 or 4 students attending their first class ever.  When I got home that night, I told Jonathan that I need to start attending higher level classes.  Not that the lower level ones aren't good - but after yoga, I like to feel like I've both worked out and stretched - and in some of the lower level ones, I don't necessarily get that worked out feeling.

But there was a little more to that comment than on the surface: basically, I need to get over my fear of headstands, or else I won't be able to keep up in an advanced class.

Fast forward to a class I went to last night.  The class was supposed to be yoga/meditation taught by the owner of the studio.  But when I arrived, the owner was not teaching it.  Instead, Lacey (yoga goddess/incredibly fit/incredibly flexible/intense) was stepping in since the owner was out of town.

The class was awesome - it was fast-paced, really challenging, a mix of cardio & stretching - but, I came home feeling like a schmuck because during the headstand portion, I felt like a fool.  I just couldn't do it!  I even asked Yoga Goddess to help me.  And she did for a second, but there were so many people in the class, she couldn't spend all that much time.

I came home seriously doubting myself.  I just didn't understand why I couldn't do it.  Am I not strong enough in the shoulders?  (Although this seems unlikely because everyone else in the class was able to do it [ie, old people, fat people, even a little kid who was there with his dad!])  Am I not flexible enough?  (That's always a question I ask myself about yoga poses.)

But when I was explaining it all to Jonathan, he answered the question for me: I am strong enough, I am flexible enough...I'm just not gutsy enough.  I'm flat-out scared of falling or hurting myself.

So we went into the (carpeted) office of our house, set up a blanket, and under intense supervision of Jonathan...

I did it!

Pretty easily, actually.  And it was awesome!  Such a feeling of accomplishment!  I went on to do about 5 more - just because I could - and because I wanted to lock all the steps in to memory.

I might just be a headstand machine, now.  I'm definitely going to try to practice at home a lot, because today my shoulders are feeling the we've-never-been-used-like-this burn today.  But seriously - I'm so happy with myself!  And so excited about attending more advanced classes!


LB said...

I have a few questions about this headstand. Are we talking HANDstand or actual headstand (because in a headstand, I'm having trouble figuring out where all the shoulder usage comes from). Second, do people do these against the wall or just straight up in the middle of the room? Third, when are you going to go all headstand machine in public next?! Exciting!

katie said...

i have the same questions about head vs. handstand. i remember doing handstands against the door in our dorm room after we'd been partying. wow. those were the days.

Jackie said...

I texted this to LB...

But basically, if you're doing a headstand as a yoga pose (that is, the technical pose [not just a little kid messing around in his backyard]), your head almost shouldn't bear any weight. Instead, it's your hands and arms that are grounded to the floor (and then, because you're using your arms, your shoulders become engaged). You're also then keeping all your muscles tight (butt, legs, abs) to hold yourself up - so it's a good full-body posture.

And about the wall: many people use the wall in class. And then the super, duper yoga gods/goddesses just do it in the middle of the room. Those people are awesome. And also suck.

Speaking of awesome: us doing handstands against our dormroom door in college.

Jonathan said...

While Jackie is doing all this low-impact ya-ya sisterhood of the traveling pants stuff, I'm 2 days into P90x again and feel like my lower half has been beaten with a night stick. I gotta get fit before my 15! year reunion in May.

Claire said...

I keep telling my mother I want to do the P90x! It's on my list. Also, congrats, Jackie on the headstand! I hate to think of all the things I don't do because I'm too scared or nervous. Good luck in your next class.

Sarah said...

So glad to hear that, you have really motivated me lately, and this will only add to that. I'm also afraid of headstands but am going to try harder next time. It's great when you have a yoga breakthrough. I had a teacher help me up in January and then I was kind of like, oh that wasn't that hard to get up, so now I think I will feel more confident the next time I'm in a headstand class.