A Play Date On The Yoga Mat

Yesterday, at Whole Foods, I craved it. Needed it. Yet handstand is something that I haven’t been very successful at accomplishing during my yoga life. Even as a young girl, pre pre pre yoga, I was so scared to be upside down because dancers are so grounded. Type A perfectionists, for that matter, are grounded, too. But yesterday, something about the strong feeling of my body created the urge to lift up slowly, powerfully. And my imagination took it one step further, picturing a bend to my knees, reaching toes to head, kind of like I did last week on my forearms in pincha mayurasana. Here’s last week’s pincha.

So I ran home and did my practice. Restricted to an hour, I chose an Ashtanga Primary Intermediate Mix with Jodi Blumstein on YogaGlo. After practice, as always, despite running late for my next date, I did my mixed bag jazz. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Ashtanga system, it is the same sequence, day after day, forever and ever. Different series (levels) exist, and the practitioner progresses through these series over a long period of time, but there’s no room for choreography and creativity. Furthermore, handstands do not come until the fifth series of Ashtanga yoga. I’m currently practicing primary and intermediate with a dash of third series here and there. So there won’t be handstand in my foreseeable future, boo hoo! And don’t get me wrong, I freaking love this because I love rigidity. This disciplined session of Ashtanga is what keeps me on the mat because I MUST accomplish it all.

I cannot take something in primary and extend to something jazzy because of my flexibility because the system just does not allow it. I do not deviate. I try not to check my mobile when it dings. And I absolutely get the practice done and feel amazing afterwards. Let’s call these sessions work. Because they are HARD work. Staying focused. Staying on sequence. Keeping my breath perfect. Doing it as designed. But I also love to play. What fun girl doesn’t? So after my Ashtanga practices, I typically play for 20 minutes or so. Here was yesterday’s play date with myself. Not going to lie, I am very pleased with how my body looks and feels, even when I don’t succeed with accomplishing a pose! It’s very strong. Frustrated at my failure, however, I moved onto my next I played and bent my knees. Have never thought to do this before. And it felt so good! And then for the jazzy bend. My fun play!

Excited with these images, and loving the black outfit by Alô and the sparkly pink nail varnish by Vinylux, I decided to try handstand again despite having zero time left to my play date. And OH I held it! Ya ya ya! But I wanted a better picture because my legs got chopped off. On the next try, because of these pictures, I realised that my feet must stay together to accomplish the aesthetic that I prefer. Here I appreciate my arch. Heart totally forward. But the damn feet were not together! Boo hoo! I want to resemble a clean ballerina, not a girl working the leg press machine at the gym! Boy this made me so happy. I did about 10 more, holding them all for several deep breaths. Here’s the jazzy Instagram version. Once upon a time, when I began practicing Ashtanga Yoga five months ago, I watched in amazement as Mr. Lino Miele moved from handstand to chaturanga. I watched in amazement as Mr. Miele moved from navasana to handstand, returning to navasana! I literally sat on my mat and exclaimed, “Wow.” Now I exclaim, “I’m totally doing that someday, too.”

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