Say Hi to Ellen
” Your first time nailing a headstand is such a proud moment, you just feel so damn cool! Unfortunately the novelty wears off and you don’t feel cool again until you’ve nailed the next inversion. I am, however, trying to be grateful for my body and the things it can do everyday and a headstand will always be one of those things. Even though so many yogis make it look easy, your first few times aren’t smooth sailing. It’s significantly different to anything most people have done in terms of training and becoming stronger. You can have the prettiest six-pack you like, but getting into a headstand uses core and mental discipline you’ve probably never engaged with before. Getting inverted is my playtime; it’s genuinely how I have fun. Inversions means constant smiling, either at the fall, or at the great achievement. I have fallen countless times trying headstands and I now laugh at myself and the ridiculous tangles I end up in, rather than let a bruised ego ruin the rest of my practice. Never have the mentality that it’s impossible; nothing is. Don’t let the fear of falling stop you from trying either, because trying is learning. The falls build strength, both mental and physical. It builds the mental strength to pick yourself back up and just keep trying, incessantly. It builds the physical strength to just keep pushing, until you’re lying in a puddle of sweaty hard work. These things build character and like most things we learn in the yoga practice, the lesson is taken off the mat. That mental strength you learnt during your fall may be just the strength you need on your next bad day. When I’m inverted, I’m smiling and when I fall, I make sure to smile at myself too. Being upside down is my idea of grown-up fun; in fact, I don’t think anything makes me happier.”
Headstands make me feel like I’m still a little kid with dirty feet who’s been playing outside all day. I’m not sure how much of this is has to do with the pose itself, or how much of it has to do with this pose giving me the biggest throwback to when I used to do gymnastics and doing handstands on bars didn’t make me want to wee in my pants out of sheer terror. Ellen is a lot braver than me when it comes to inversions in general. Somewhere along the line, I grew up and I became scared. I convinced myself that I wasn’t strong enough to balance on my hands in a handstand so I didn’t even try. Headstand was weirdly one of the easiest poses for me, and I am fully convinced that it was purely because I didn’t doubt that I could do it, because I only ever had good, fun memories of little Dom doing it. As an inversion, headstand teaches bravery (because sometimes you just have to go for it) and, probably more importantly, how to laugh at yourself when you fall over. Because you will fall, probably on your face – or flat on your ass. There really is nothing graceful about the falling, that comes in in how you pick yourself up. If I’m tired, mentally or physically, staying in headstand is near impossible but if I’m focused, and it’s been a good day – I close my eyes and it almost feels like I’m floating underwater. This is a safer inversion to go for, because your head is literally on the ground – so there isn’t very far to fall when you do. Inversions literally change your perspective on life and on all the things that pose challenges to you. One of my favorite Yoga Teacher’s from The Yoga Life always tells us – the point of turning your world upside down during your practice, is to show you that you will be okay when it happens in life. If headstands are a way to have fun, then that is because they remind us what it is to feel like a kid again – before life taught us to be scared of trying things we may not be good at doing. The best thing to do if you are going to try an inversion like this is to work hard to make sure you are strong enough to handle it, make peace with the fact that you will fall sometimes and, most importantly that you will be okay after you do. Funny how that sounds a bit like advice for life, too.