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The elegance of balance

The body has a powerful memory. In this video, my pal Katie Godfrey effortlessly floats up into handstand. She's not a yogi, she used to practice gymnastics as a kid. Apart from random handstands here and there as a fun parlor trick, she hadn't done a handstand with any attention to form or alignment until she pulled this out in my living room a few months ago.

Note how she is not still. Not a bad thing, or a good thing, just the nature of balancing, the body seeking to ground around the center of gravity which has , in one fell swoop (ha!) been turned upside down (double ha!). Kate told me she especially feels this in the hands, the two new main grounding points, which is why her fingers are tented, active, seeking stillness in the balance point.

"It moves," she told me. "You can feel it in the fingers, now it's in the pinkie, oh, now it's in the thumb. Cool!"

I used to get yelled at all the time as a kid for doing (seemingly) pointless and reckless feats of balancing. Things like, walking on the knuckles of my toes (i know, weird, right?) while carrying plates, cups, sharp objects, pets, loads of books on my head. Also, stacking. Still a big fan of stacking: carrying more things than two hands normally allow using other such body parts as elbows and torso.

The danger of the fall, the precariousness, the in-the-moment-ness of testing the limits of skill and endurance. I always push things to their limits. Always such curiosity to see where the breaking point lies.

The intensity of the inner awareness that ensues as internal GPS surges from head to heels placing coordinates for the center of gravity is fun too. Then, if all is well, that moment, the stillpoint where everything paradoxically opens wider than wide and then just falls away -suspension of the body and the mind in space and time- is bliss.

The setup for handstand, aka Adho Mukha Vrksasana, Downward Facing Tree, is all about the precision of stacking bone over bone - elbows on top of wrists, hips over shoulders, ankles over knees - to bring vertebrae on top of vertebrae. Creating chaos to develop a greater ability to control the self, if only the physical body at first, mind to follow after a good long while. The thrill of being upside down is so enticingly terrifying I cannot resist.

It's just fun. What a feat, to stand on one's hands. Next step, walking on them! I am full of inversion puns.

So much preparatory work has to happen before Handstand can occur. Bearing weight on the arms, shifting the center of gravity from legs to hands by moving the hips over the shoulders. So many things. Incremental is the way to go.

I went to a fabulous Yin Yoga /Vinyasa Flow workshop with my teacher, Corina Lynn Benner a couple weeks go. Heaven. What a goddess. What fun.

I really need to do a Yin post. So much is happening. talk about stacking and balancing.

More soon.



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