A highlight of my week last week (at least from a yoga asana perspective) was getting up into handstand by myself again in my class. Although I was able to do handstand for a number of years, I lost the ability to do it due after some shoulder injuries (two frozen shoulders to be specific—who knew you could get that nasty condition more than once!). So I’ve had to go through the process three times of learning/re-learning to do this pose. The way I did it was by practicing the pose home. But how can you practice a pose that you can’t do? Well, I just made up my mind to try getting up into handstand several times a week. Just casually. Just one try. And if that didn’t work, no big deal. After I after finally got up once, still keep practicing. If I failed after that first success, again, no big deal. Just keep practicing. Just keep practicing. Just keep practicing. That’s basically the way I not only learned to do handstand, but also a number of other challenging poses. This process always reminds me of the main message of the Bhagavad Gita.
You have right to your actions,
but never to your actions’ fruits
Ac for the action’s sake.
And do not be attached to inaction.
Self-possessed, resolute, act
without any thoughts of results,
open to success or failure.
Taking an approach like this is one of the many ways your asana practice can teach you about yoga philosophy in action. And this approach to a difficult asana is one you can use for any challenging task that you take on.
- Start with the wall version (see Warrior 3 (Wall Version)) with hands flat on the wall. We had a comment from one our readers saying her students found the wall version too challenging. But if it’s too hard to lift one of your legs up parallel to floor, you can try lifting it up a tiny bit or even just coming onto the toes of one of your feet so more weight is on one leg. That’s still the pose!
- Keep practicing the wall version until it’s relatively easy and you can maintain comfortably at least 30 seconds. (If you are not lifting your leg all the way or up or even off the floor, keep practicing until you finally do.)
- Now try practicing with your hands on the wall to fingertips. Work with this version until you can maintain comfortably for at least 30 seconds.
- Now try the pose away from the wall for just a brief moment, keeping your torso and leg at angle (not coming full parallel). Yay, you did it! Work with this version until you can maintain comfortably for at least 30 seconds.
- Experiment with the full pose as we will show it later this week. Start with the easiest version first (arms back), the middle version next (arms out to the sides) and work up to the hardest version last (the full pose). Work through each version the same way, starting with a brief hold and than working up to a longer hold.
- Once you learn the pose, keep practicing it on a regular basis!