There’s a Metaphor Here Somewhere

The yoga teacher says we’re going to do handstands and that “if a handstand isn’t part of your practice, you can use the wall for your handstand.”

I’m thinking to myself, looky here, LuluLemonista, not only is a handstand not in my practice, I don’t want a handstand in my practice. In fact, I’ve been really pretty happy for most of my life without a handstand.

Going upside the hell down and then balance on my hands? Funny joke.

I don’t do upside down. In fact, I hate being upside down.

Even when I was little, when all the other kids were impressing one another with the whole hanging by their knees thing on the monkey bars?  Nope. I remained steadfastly upright. In gym class, in high school, when we were supposed to learn a move on the uneven parallel bars–a “penny drop” (swing by your knees back and forth until you get enough velocity to unwrap your legs, then land on your feet)–I about had a nervous breakdown.

So. Handstands.

Dutifully, I drag myself over to the wall, plant my hands, walk my feet towards my hands until I’m in an upside down V, then lift one foot into the air and start hopping off the other foot to launch the extended leg skyward–or wallward, rather.

It scares me. Scares me because while my feet are thrashing in space (a millisecond at a time), there’s no way of knowing if the wall is really there. Is the wall there? I can’t see the damn wall because I’m upside down, so how do I know the wall has not suddenly melted, ala “Inception” or something?  Being upside down may involve more faith than I’m really equipped to offer.

Then last week, Lululemonista ratcheted it up a notch.  Now the wall isn’t an option. We’re supposed to just V ourselves, extend the one leg up into the air and start that damn hopping off the other leg.

We’re either aiming for handstands or ol’ Lemonista has got us all doing some kind of obscure mating ritual.

Every now and then, in one of my hops, I can feel my arms kind of root down into the floor and all my muscles (such as they are) suddenly figure out how to work together, and for a brief moment I think “okay, this is what it feels like to do a handstand.”  You know what? For that split-second nano-moment where “handstand” seems attainable, it’s glorious. I feel strong and weightless, at the same time.

And then, immediately, “oh my god am I going to do a handstand? holy crap.” My feet come thumping down onto the floor and I realize that my arms are trembling with fatigue.

When I used to be in therapy and would wail about my anxieties to my therapist, she would look at me and say, calmly, “what’s the worst that could happen?”  And most of the time, when I forced myself to answer that question out loud, “the worst” wasn’t usually that bad – usually not death or pestilence or global destruction.

What’s the worst that could happen in a handstand? Maybe the wall wouldn’t be there. Maybe I’d fall down.

Or maybe, maybe one of these days (weeks, months, years) I won’t fall down. Maybe I’ll  just suspend there, balanced on my hands, toes wiggling in the air.

Nah. Never gonna happen. Upside down still scares me.

Most of the time.

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2 Responses to There’s a Metaphor Here Somewhere

  1. Susanbw January 20, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    Ask your sister about your mother’s yogic handstands against the bedroom wall, practiced when you were at school. She musta thought I was crazeeee!

  2. Jan January 26, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    I’ve seen you in Yoga class. I predict a handstand…soon

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