Today, I watched 4 yo R hold onto the balance beam as her Little Gym coach lifted her legs over her head. A handstand in the making.
With less than a month to go before I actually do face 40, I still cannot do a handstand. I've tried many times (with brave yoga teachers heaving my legs over my head, which at my age is a bit ungainly compared to little R). Once, Leah Kalish (http://www.yogaplaygrounds.com/) had me so fired up I held handstand in the middle of the room for a brilliant moment, a breathless breath. I don't know if it was what she said, or just her presence, but Leah made me feel like I could do anything. I told her it would be worth getting pregnant to have her coach the birth.
But away from her (why does she have to live on the other coast??), the old mental blocks are back. I can't do it, I don't know why I can't do it, I'm going to fall, fall, fall. And that would HURT. If I manage, with assists from my teachers, to get through all that static to get up into handstand against a wall, my mind goes blank. I'm totally disoriented. And I come right down. Safe and sound. But disappointed.
Over the past 11 months a lot of people have asked what the big deal is with going upside down. When I'm upside down, I am not present in my body or my mind. Fear takes me away from myself. From living my life in that moment.
In teaching yoga, in raising children, I hold others' fears with confidence. That she will work through it, that on the other side, a side he can't fathom now, he will be okay. I look at them with believing eyes.
For R, it's natural to have a coach physically hold her in position. Eventually she may just need instructions, encouragement, a spot. One day, it may all be inside her, ready to take her where she wants to go. For me, it's about going through these stages and allowing them to be what they are - humbling, exciting, frustrating - without losing patience or heart.
So the next step for me, is to find my inner Leah Kalish, except that it will actually be Patty. Upside Down Patty. Wish me luck.
Patty Chang Anker blogs about learning things she never got around to learning as a kid now that she's hurtling into middle age. Hilarity and humiliation are sure to follow. Join the fun!
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