I do yoga. I love yoga. I breathe yoga. Okay, little much. But I really, really love yoga and for me, that means loving inversions too. Putting your head, hands, or both on the earth and floating up your feet just feels divine. When you do it right. But why do I go upside down? What draws me to it? Because yes, it is scary and (big yes) yes it is hard.
Well for one, I like a challenge. I like goals. Inversions are set up in a way that is hard, scary, and challenging. I have to channel all my focus, all my strength, and all my patience into one posture. Nothing frustrates me more than a good inversion but nothing gets me quite as calm either (inversions taught me this is the same off the mat). What frustrates you can make you feel bliss when you’ve accomplished something. And boy is there something to accomplish.
Every hand placement, elbow placement, head placement, butt placement means something else when you are upside down. Half of an inch could be the difference between falling and soaring.
And I really like having to figure everything out. It’s incredibly hard to think about what you have to do and, when you actually have to do it, let it go out of your brain. Physically, mentally, emotionally it’s a challenge.
And I love it.
But you know, I don’t practice it solely because it’s challenging. I practice because it scares me. Terrifies me. I could fall on my head (I have). I could land on my face (I have). I could get a little banged up (I have). And, worst of all, I’m looking straight down at the gravity I’m defying by balancing upside down. Now if that doesn’t feel like I’m tempting fate, I don’t know what does.
So it’s a little scary. There’s some risk involved. Sometimes a lot of risk, like this lady practicing on a rock. And to that I say, so what?! If I don’t push myself out of my comfort zone, look my fears dead in the eyes, I’ll never grow. I’ll never learn to get over my little fears, my small anxieties. And I definitely won’t ever be able to conquer larger fears in my life.
How can I conquer any fear outside of me when I can’t conquer the fear inside of me?
I get to hush the little voice inside of me telling me I can’t, that I’ll fall, that I’ll be injured, that I’ll look silly, that I’ll fail somehow. I go upside down to conquer those fears, keep them at bay.
Of course, there are a ton of health benefits that I think about occasionally. Maybe I won’t get wrinkles someday. My lymphatic system clears out toxins. The circulation aspect is awesome. My heart works hard. Crazy hard. Because of that, my brain gets a bunch of yummy oxygen and really gives me creative bursts. I go upside down to get clarity and creativity. And oxygen. Lots of it. A lot of times, I work as hard as I do when I go for a long run.
I feel the effects after my feet touch back down and I finally roll up. I feel clear. Calm like the ocean on a perfect day. I feel like I’ve collected the pieces of myself and they are all jumbled together in a big hug, happy.
Like anything else though, there is one main reason I practice inversions. A very important reason at that.
It taught me to love myself and the journey I am taking.
I’ve struggled with self-esteem issues, depression, eating disorders, etc. Looking in the mirror and being happy with what I see has not been easy for me. But when I started inverting, everything changed. I didn’t see myself as a failure anymore I saw myself as a strong example of success.
What a revolutionary moment.
I worked so hard, fought so hard to be able to accomplish something concrete that when I finally did I could not doubt my ability. I could not doubt myself. But I could push myself harder. I could seek out the next goal.
The more I pushed, the more goals I sought out, the more I had to take care of myself. If I wanted to be able to do scorpion I had to eat right, treat myself kindly, and round out my yoga practice and other exercises. So, of course, I fell in love with inversions. They gave me confidence, strengthened my body, and helped heal my mind. AND I got to learn how to enjoy a very rough journey.
So I keep going upside down. Every. Day.
I push myself to keep sticking to this journey and its challenges. Inversions have made me fall in love with challenges all over again. And they’ve made me love myself all over again.
Try, try, try inversions. Face your fears. Fight yourself. And find peace.