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Post-Mortem of a Headstand Workshop

September 08, 2014


My colleague and I, both seasoned yoga instructors, were clear at the Headstand Workshop about preventing certain tendencies that we witness commonly in class, such as aligning the hips on top of the shoulders, no hopping or kicking up into headstand and keeping the knees close to the chest in ‘egg-shape’ before attempting to straighten the legs.   Clear, yes, as in crystal.

Yet, after 90 minutes of discussing, warming-up, strengthening, aligning and demonstrating, we watched fear and conditioning take over our participants and ease them back into the same ole, same ole habits of trying to go upside down. My voice picked up a few octaves and roared out the basics (after all, we were in Headstand Basics) as if the boom of my voice in their ears would break all the years of fear and conditioning  Then I paused as this thought went through my mind, ‘If you want to pay me money to go right back to your same habits, go right ahead.’ Then, I heard my colleague’s voice in my ear, ‘I swear I just told him to work on the ‘tipping point’ and look, he’s back to kicking up.’  I looked, and he was indeed kicking, and smiling because he could claim, as he said, that he got upside down.

It is then, that I had to remind myself that these determined souls are here to learn new habits, not necessarily to break them.  I have no control over their habits, nor does my colleague, but damned sure we wished we had. This is where my yoga philosophy took over, teaching me the grueling lessons of compassion and patience.  When I want to break down one of my habits, infinitely small (such as changing where I place my toothbrush), it takes me days if not months for just the small stuff!  We tell our students not to have advanced minds, but we, the teachers must heed the warnings too, and find compassion even after the 8th time repeating the same cues.  It’s not only our jobs, it’s our evolution.

Overall the workshop was a great success with lots of enthusiasm and many making conscious efforts to change habits while leaving the destination or goal at bay.  The faces seemed determined when they filed out of the room after the workshop, determined to break some of the old habits and build to the new. If they can do it, so can I.

Thanks to all who attended and participated!  See you again on the mat to turn your world upside down!

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