Handstands that is! Even if you’re not a yogi, seeing people doing handstands can be an everyday occurrence. Outside of the studio, I see it at the beach, the park and heck even at the bus stop corner downtown. And let’s not forget the endless posts on social media. It seems it has evolved from a yoga pose to a rite of passage. Has it become more of a circus trick than a sacred pose? And does it make you less of a yogi if you aren’t performing these in class or for the general public, LOL?
First, as a yoga instructor, I understand the immense benefits of these inversions:
- Improve Circulation and Blood Flow
- Strengthen Core Muscles
- Increase Immunity
- Build Confidence
- Increase Energy
- Increase Balance and Coordination
- Promote Relaxation and Better Sleep
- They are Fun!
So as an instructor, I love that people get so excited about practicing this pose.
However, also because I am an instructor, it does concern me when I see people doing them to ACDC on a concrete sidewalk at a busy intersection in the middle of a crowd of people during morning rush hour. I can’t help but wince… even while jamming out to “Shook me all night long…”
The point is not to knock anyone trying this powerful pose. Quite the contrary, as I applaud all those who even attempt it. But it is to simply point out the reason for doing it in the first place. What is the intent? Is it to get the perfect picture so you rack up likes on Facebook? Show off for your friends? Or is it to reap the benefits listed above? And don’t get me wrong, I think many of the pictures I see on social media are both inspiring and breathtaking. But I am a strong proponent that yoga should be done with a certain level of integrity. And that integrity is conveyed through our breath, our postures and how we interact within our community. And this should outweigh the desire to satisfy the ego’s need for attention or praise, which often times leads to injury.
Also, I would like to address the fact that if you don’t practice handstands it doesn’t make you less of a yogi. No one pose is any more important than another. So not doing a handstand is just like not doing say, pigeon pose. The only 2 things every yogi must do is breathe and be authentic to themselves and their own practice. That means being true to yourself and only you know if you’re doing that.
I will conclude by sharing that I recently saw a woman practicing at the park the other day and it was quite a beautiful sight. She had obviously been given proper, detailed instructions about how to practice by propping her body against a tree to help stabilize herself. I couldn’t take my eyes off her as she persistently kicked up her legs and finally her and the tree aligned trunks in perfect unity. She wasn’t snapping selfies or performing for a crowd. She was clearly honoring her practice in Mother Nature’s lap and it was exquisite.
So, the question is to stand or not to stand? And the answer is…..always stand tall in your practice, whether it is on your hands or on your feet!