"Egg-y shape. Making the egg-y shape."
Is what I think to myself every time I attempt to do a headstand without the wall. My teacher trainer's voice echoing in my head the correct form as I place the top of my head on the floor between my forearms, lift out of my shoulders, and attempt to stack my hips in line with my shoulders.
Proper form starts with engaging your abs so you can tuck your knees in (like an egg). One you are stable here, it is simply a matter of lifting your legs into the air and not breaking your neck.
But nothing is ever simple. I got the egg-y pretty down, but something happens to me when I try to extend my feet. My alignment shifts, I loose my balance, and freak out.
This particular day, I felt the sway of my feet and remembered that quesy feeling of fear. "Don't break your neck." I think to myself. It's strange though because it's always in my mother's voice. The correct way to fall out of an inversion is to go into a backbend. That way, you land on your feet like a peaceful yoga cat.
Unless you are me. In which case, you panic and end up launching yourself from your forearm grip on your head into what can only be described as a belly flop for your back. That is what happened this time. I lay there motionless. What did I just do? Am I OK?
Nothing hurts. I'm OK, but my shoulder blades will smart tomorrow. I'm the teacher. Aren't I supposed to know how to do this by now? When am I going to be granted the gift of yoga grace that lithesome teachers delicately walk around with like some sort of zen ballerina?
I get up. Nothing bruised except my pride.
Why does it always seem like whenever I finally get everything in alignment, something comes to throw me off kilter?
This month has been filled with no. No, you don't get a permanent class to teach. No, you didn't get that writing job. No, no time to date/see friends/have a life.
And all I'm trying to do is to stack everything in alignment: To build my perfect life piece by piece until I am standing on my head, but I am doing it with ease and tranquility. However, each time I try, it seems that I fall on my back. Hard. How can I build a life without having everything I'm working on topple over from week to week?
Fear is really the obstacle to get over when practicing inversions. As young children, we aren't afraid of falling. We love hanging upside down from monkey bars, unafraid of the consequences. Not even thinking about the space between our heads and the ground below. There is so much that that space contains: lack of control, pain, emptiness. As adults, we don't like the feeling of turning our world in the other direction. We want to keep two feet on the ground---eyes on the horizon.
But recently, I have been leaning into the unknown. Letting go of what no longer serves me and taking chances with an upside down kind of life. Starting out as a yoga teacher is not exactly the most steady of professions. With each step, the world flips in a different direction, and 9 times out of 10, I fall on my back.
I got up and brushed myself off. A little shaken. No more inversions for today.
But tomorrow....tomorrow I will practice again. Until I can get the egg-y right.