Practice Makes Possible

I have been practicing yoga for more than a decade, but it has only been within the last of couple years (since my yoga teacher training) that I've embraced going upside down.

I remember freaking out whenever a yoga teacher would say, "Okay, let's practice handstand." All I could hear is: "Okay, let's do something irrational that could involve breaking your neck."

My response would then be one of quiet discomfort, giving 5 percent effort and hoping the teacher wouldn't notice.

But now, my practice feels incomplete if I don't attempt going upside down in either handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana), forearm stand (Pincha Mayurasana) or headstand (Sirsasana).

So what has changed? Well, I didn't suddenly improve my handstands overnight. But I did change my attitude. I first had to accept my fear of going upside down and then face it head-on (so to speak). I chose to be equanimous in my practice - to give 100 percent in all my poses, not to pick and choose my favorite ones.

This has also proved to be a good lesson for me off the mat. There are always moments of comfort and discomfort, filled with people with whom we love to surround ourselves and those from whom we wish to run. Through my asana practice, I am learning to work on and stay in poses that challenge me, which in turn is teaching me to accept people who push my buttons. It's not easy, but it's possible. For me it's recognizing how I feel (internally freaking out) and then choosing to stay, breathe and find a sense of calm (diffusing my internal freak-out). Going upside down changes my perspective - and that is always refreshing.

I haven't perfected any of my upside down poses. It continues to be a work in progress, but practice is making it possible.