I set out early last Saturday morning to attend a handstand workshop given by Kerri Verna, known in the land of instagram as beachyogagirl. I waffled back and forth on whether to go or not. It would take up most of my weekend and I really wanted to attend a friend’s bellydance recital Sunday evening. Thankfully, Jason encouraged me to go and even to attend the recital on Sunday, so I went and I’m so glad I did.
I was nervous because I had never been to the Asheville Yoga Center and I was going by myself. I don’t do well in groups. I feel socially awkward and if the structure is terrible it irritates me. Lol I’m a lot of fun! I knew going by myself would be challenging, but I had a lot I was thinking about that had been put on the back burner, so I took the time to hang by myself.
They have a boutique in the workshop building and it is awesome. They have clothes, books, manduka mats and jewelry. It was really interesting to see a lot of the clothes and jewelry that are promoted on Instagram up close. I had been wanting a lighter mat and was able to pick one out and see the amazing colors in person. I chose a color I don’t think I would have picked online and I’m really happy with it.
The first workshop was on building strength for handstands. Handstands are not yoga, but it seems like we’ve westernized yoga to incorporate them into our practices. Handstands are a culmination of a lot of different strengths; core to keep your alignment, hip flexors to help with the press and balance and flexibility. She gave a lot of information about building that strength including the zinger that handstands are an everyday practice. To build and keep that strength you have to work on them everyday.
The afternoon session focused on the how-to of handstands beginning with headstand. I can DO all of the inversions; supported headstand, tripod headstand, pincha, and handstand. That doesn’t mean I can do them well. She went through the stages of strength beginning with supported headstand. If you think of these poses as steps on a ladder, I am only on the first rung. The reason I’m there is because I haven’t built up the strength in my core to bring both legs straight up to headstand at the same time. That doesn’t mean I don’t practice tripod, for example, but that does mean I have some core work to do.
The last session was called strong and bendy. It focused on some intense stretching to go one step further in flexibility. I learned a few buddy exercises to increase my hamstring flexibility as well as flexibility in my back. We ended the workshop with doing a drop back to wheel, I haven’t done something like that since taking acrobatics around 12 years old. It was scary. I’m extremely cautious about my back, but as I listened to another girl share her fears about why she “can’t” do a drop back I began to understand that some of what I tell myself was untrue. I can do wheel pose. I have built up enough strength in my back not to hurt myself or compress my spine, if done correctly. I was teetering on not doing the drop back, but I knew it was something I could do and something I should try. It turns out I’m pretty badass at drop backs. Something “broke” inside me when I did my first one, a triumph of sorts and freedom. I did it a second time and plan to continue practicing it.
Kerri was a character. At first, to be honest, I didn’t really like her. She has a strong personality. While learning bakasana (crow pose) I asked if the goal was to get your feet close to your bottom. Her reply was that the “goal” was to live a joyful life. That checked and humbled me a bit. She continued to make statements that had you question your motives. Why are you doing yoga? Why do you want to do something advanced, like chin stand? She was far from a meditative teacher; more practical than zen, but in that way you could take it or leave it. I took them. I began to notice that I’m not very kind in my self talk, that I care too much of what people think of me and that I had lost the focus of my yoga practice. She gave me a lot to think about.
By the end of the weekend, I was refreshed with a new perspective and a renewed focus.