Handstands scare me.
I'm what Glamour Magazine would call a "pear shape" — meaning my bottom half is larger than my top half. Thigh gap (is that still a thing? I hope not) never happened for me, even when I was a size 00. Because of this, I've always told myself that my legs are strong and my arms are weak.
It could be true. But it's my fault it's true, a truth my husband awakened me to the other night. I was telling him I was scared about the inversions workshop I was to take on Saturday when he hit me with a truth bomb.
"Cara, you've been saying that your arms are weak and your legs are strong since I've known you. Your arms are never going to get stronger if you keep saying that," he said. "And anyway, your arms have gotten a lot stronger since you've been doing yoga so much. You just don't see it because you tell yourself they're weak."
I don't know why I hadn't considered that before. In order to stop hating myself, I had to stop telling myself hateful things. In order to feel beautiful, I have to tell myself I'm beautiful. So in order to feel strong, I have to tell myself I'm strong. It makes sense.
Sometimes my husband can be quite the yogi. He just doesn't realize it.
With a combination of determination, fear and excitement, I went to Patrick Beach's 5-hour inversions workshop at The Zen Zone in Lee's Summit, Missouri. When I saw Patrick Beach was coming to the Kansas City area, I knew I had to come. He's like the Beyonce of handstands. If you want to go down a rabbit hole, check out some of his Instagram videos.
We started out with a sweat-inducing flow session to warm up. Then we worked on several inversions. Headstand first (yay! I'm not afraid of this one!) and then several variations of handstand — most of which I'd never seen. I've always learned that the progression was: L-stand on the wall; wall-assisted (or one-person assisted) handstand; handstand (eek!). Patrick taught us: Properly-aligning your chaturanga, downward facing dog and handstand (all the same hand/arm positioning — I think we were ALL doing it "wrong"); handstand with two people assisting (kicking off one's leg and using both for stability/balance); handstand with one person assisting (now the floor isn't as close to you for kick off); handstand kicking off on the wall (several variations); and finally, an unassisted handstand. He showed a few varieties of that, too ... but I'm not there yet.
Although I had tried handstand a few times before, I've been really incorporating handstand into my practice since August. I've watched video tutorials. I've taken classes on YogaDownload.com specifically devoted to the handstand. And let me tell you, even if you don't kick up into a full handstand, you can exhaust yourself trying. I just had this horrible image in my head of my arms caving in and my head and body crumpling to the floor. I practice early in the morning, before my husband is awake, and I've seriously thought, "If I die doing handstand, how long would it take for Kristopher to wake up and find me here?"
So this fear I have, it's been building up for a long time.
Spoiler alert: I kicked up into a handstand. (!!!!!!!!!) Not an unassisted one yet, but kicking up into an assisted handstand is a HUGE accomplishment for me. HUGE. I'm proud of myself. And I have three people to thank ...
My husband, because he gave me the yogi truth bomb I needed.
My friend Jake, who was my partner at the workshop and was patient and encouraging, and whom I trusted (which was important — not sure I'd trust a stranger with my life just yet).
And of course, Patrick Beach. Because he patiently coached me until I did it. And just his presence motivated me to do it. Because when the Beyonce of handstands is watching you, there is no "try" — you do it.
Oh, and we also did some funky stretches with our partners. This looks strange, but it feels really good. I'm teaching my husband how to do it because I want to do this like, every frackin' day.
And I'll just leave you with these nuggets from Patrick Beach's Instagram account.