That’s right—I can’t do a handstand. But this doesn’t make me a bad teacher, and it doesn’t mean I don’t know how to teach someone to do a handstand.
What does it mean? That I am still learning, still practicing, and still growing. Inversions are hard, and they take commitment. As do all yoga poses.
I understand how yoga can appear to be a very daunting practice—especially with images of picture-perfect yogis in the media. There are endless photos of pretty "super yogis" wandering around beaches (seemingly effortlessly) on their hands.
While I am guilty of an Instagram feed full of yoga pictures, I believe what's important is to stop the comparisons. What we need to remember is simple enough: that everyone is an individual, unique.
Some people are naturally quite flexible, or strong. Our bodies are all different and we shouldn’t spend our time comparing ourselves to others. Understandably—with endless photos on social media and websites filled with yoga and fitness information—this can be difficult to do. For me it’s been a hard lesson to learn. I am naturally very self competitive.
I have pushed and pushed my body. Practiced when I ached all over—eventually winding up with an injury. Doctors prescribed medications for the pain, and anti-inflammatories, and as a result of the injury, I slowed my practice down. This ultimately led me to taking up Yin yoga, and falling in love with props.
Having learned from my past tendencies to push myself well past my limits, I now try to check in with myself, and my body, regularly. I remind myself what yoga means to me, and why I practice. Everyone practices yoga for their own respective reason. What they are trying to achieve through their practice may look quite different from what I am trying to achieve through mine.
Yogas chitta vrtti nirodah—the second yoga sutra—is the one that means the most to me. Yoga is the quieting of the mind, and that’s really why I practice. For the moment of peace that I can find in a pose. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to deepen my physical practice—or do a handstand! it just means I am learning to be more understanding of my body.
I remind myself that with dedication and time, the physical practice will develop. I just have to understand and listen to my own unique body.