By Annette Benedetti
Last night I was talking to a friend about my fitness goals, and when I told him that I wanted to be able to do an unassisted handstand by the end of the year instead of producing the response I expected, which went something like “That’s awesome. You’re a badass. You can do it!” he looked at me quizzically and simply said, “Why?”
I was instantly dumbfounded. What a silly question! I mean, who wouldn’t want to be able to do a handstand? Right?
But when I went to put my reasons into words, I was suddenly at a loss. What were they really? It is true that almost every inversion has a calming and centering affect on my nervous system, as I mentioned a while back in Head Down Butt Up. But I am able to access that feeling of calm through the inversions that I have already mastered including my favorite, sirsasana (headstand).
What does handstand offer that’s new? And what will finally being able to fully perform this pose that I have been chasing for 8 years do for me?
The truth is, I don’t know. I just know that I was hooked from the very first time I threw my feet up against a wall, flipping my world and setting off an internal jolt that forced me to focus and maintain a constant, cooperative, and positive conversation with my body. This is something I have been working towards for the better part of 40 years and it’s a wonderful reprieve from the constant distain I internally —and often externally— express as I pull on my cloths each day.
Working on handstand requires an immense amount of strength and patience, far beyond what I needed for headstand. It helps me recognize and appreciate the parts of my body that are stronger and more able than I had realized. It also insists that I speak softly to the areas that are still coming along. Muscles have to grow and learn. They need the mind to tell them what to do and then to remind them and correct them when needed. When your feet are up in the air and the weight of your body is depending upon two small palms, there’s no room for self-degradation and frustration. Even with the support of the wall, a small amount of negative self-talk or the slightest whisper of an “I can’t” will bring an end to your pose.
So, why is conquering the handstand one of my goals this year? I’ll be honest, it’s still mostly because who wouldn’t want to be able to do a handstand!? But it’s also because it’s yet one more way for me to continue to work on my body image, positive self-talk and of course (perhaps most important of all) being a badass. .