Practice, practice, practice

You’d think that looking at myself in the mirror several times a day, every day would mean that I have a sensible understanding of what I look like.  Not the obvious things like ‘my hair is brown, my eyes are brown…’ but a realistic understanding of the correct proportion of my body; but it’s clear that I have no clue and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Perhaps this is a bi-product of spending part of my adulthood carrying an excess of 100 pounds.  Even though I am by most standards considered a normal weight (well, except for the traditional BMI scale which still has me teetering on the edge of being listed as overweight) I still cringe when my tall, burly uncle lifts me off the floor for a big hug.  Instinctively I wriggle free saying, ‘Don’t lift me up!  You’ll give yourself a hernia for sure!’

The same thing happens when I’m in yoga class.  Sue, my amazing teacher, will ask me to prepare for a pose by planting my feet shoulder width apart; in my mind’s eye that equals to roughly 2 feet, right? No?  When I readjust and see the tiny space between my feet I think, well, that can’t be right.  But it is.  The truth is that most of the time I don’t feel like I have an accurate sense of how my body really looks.

Last week I learned how to begin preparing for a handstand.  When I watched Sue do this my jaw dropped and my eyes widened in amazement.  I shook my head but Sue had faith in me so I tried it; it helped tremendously that she was right there to spot me – and I did it…..kind of. I’ve been carefully practicing at home for the last few days and planned on sharing pictures of me setting up for this pose. I know one thing for certain: I will never master a handstand until I gain an accurate ‘feel’ for my body. What about all of the photos, you ask?  Well, I can show you three, which is exactly three more than I was going to post, considering I didn’t actually do what I set out to do.

Before attempting to practice a handstand it was important to know that my upper body was strong enough to support one.  I’ve been doing this for the last several months by doing such exercises as push-ups and holding plank pose for as long as possible:

 

Plank

 

 

In the next photo I’m measuring where my hand placement will be for my practice handstand (my hands will be placed roughly where the heels of my feet are).  See how well I can sit?  (ha-ha).  Of course, Brulee had to be in the photo as well :)

 

Me and Bru

Next, I place my hands where the heels of my feet were, and back my feet up to the wall (by the way, I do NOT suggest practicing by a set of stairs! I realized this and moved before attempting my handstand).

 

practice

The next step from here was to start walking my feet up the wall until my body reached 90 degrees (legs parallel with the floor) but I had this fear that I was going to go tumbling forward. I was certain that my body was aligned appropriately but Craig assured me that I wasn’t.  How could I feel like I was holding the correct posture when I was so far off?  I asked him to stand in front of me so that I could feel safe in knowing that I wouldn’t fall backwards, but even with him standing inches away I kept saying, ‘I’m going to fall, I’m going to fall!’ Realistically, I was nowhere near falling over. …want to see more?  Yeah, me too!  Maybe in a few more weeks I’ll actually be able to get to a 90 degree angle while someone ‘happens’ to have a camera nearby!  Till then, I’ll keep practicing – and painting!  Here is my latest finished yoga artwork:

SkyEarthTypeFB

I had such a hard time with this one; I don’t really know why, either – but choosing the right font took me two days!  I just couldn’t make up my mind about anything.  I’m glad that it’s done though, because now I can concentrate on something new.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

8 thoughts on “Practice, practice, practice

  1. Marion

    Hi Ellen, Oh, I so relate. I’ve been doing handstand prep exercises all year long. The latest is hand-walking my legs up the wall into a near-handstand position and back down again into pushup position. I’m strong enough to do them, but I am pretty scared of the balancing component. I’ve practiced in a door frame too. Have you have tried that? These are just ideas I’ve been working on. The door frame is fun. :D

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Marion, I’ve never heard of trying a handstand in a doorway, before! I am SO uncoordinated, it’s not even funny. The thought of doing a handstand at 16 always made me laugh, and it’s amazing that I’m actually trying to attempt one at 43! lol You are doing SO beautifully in your practice! :)

      Reply
  2. Kyra

    That makes me want to do that. I used to do handstands that way, because my balance stinks! I remember doing the tripod headstands too, but that makes my head hurt! LOL

    Reply
  3. Laura

    I love this piece so much – the colors are amazing and it’s something I need to remember.

    I’m hoping I can do a handstand in 2014 – thank you for the awesome tips! I definitely haves done body awareness disconnects – what I see in pictures definitely doesn’t match how I feel!

    Reply
  4. Vickie

    That is exactly how I figure placement of hands, and I use the wall too. I actually do not (ever) lift both legs off wall. I lift one leg and hold (a one legged hand stand) for a while. Then I put both feet back on wall and reposition. Then I lift other leg and hold for a while.

    I also do full shoulder stands with shoulders on two yoga blankets, head on floor. Have her show you if you do not know how. It is a good one. I can get myself very lifted and straight. Never do a shoulder stand with out blankets.

    Also I do forearm stand with my back against wall. I fold my yoga mat in half to cushion arms. That is a good one too.

    Reply
  5. Vickie

    If you leave one leg on wall, YOU CAN’T FALL OVER BACKWARDS, because you have the weight of that leg anchoring you.

    So if I am reading you correctly and you are afraid to try it with both legs on the wall, REALLY you can just get over it, and do it right now, because you would defy the laws of gravity to fall over backwards in the upside down L position. . .

    Yes I know it feels like you are going to fall.

    You are not going to fall.

    To avoid the freak out, focus on positioning of your shoulders and pushing off floor. Think of it as arm strengthening and posture correcting and core work.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      I will try this, Vickie. I just need to remember that I’m not going to break my neck. I have this big fear of landing wrong and throwing out my back but in reality I know this won’t happen because I’m so, SO careful. Maybe too careful – maybe that’s my problem! I’ll try your way and see if it helps. I think I’m still a way’s off of actually achieving anything that looks remotely like a handstand but my yoga teacher says that my strength is there; I just need to to believe in myself.

      Reply

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