Upside Down

I went to an inversions workshop this past weekend led by two of my favorite yoga instructors. I love inversions. I have loved them since I finally got into a headstand. I loved them early on doing supported shoulder stands. I love having my heart above my head. And I believe it is often better to lead with our hearts than our heads. Our mind plays tricks on us, it over-thinks, it creates scenarios that we allow ourselves to believe are true and then we live our lives based in illusion.

The inversions workshop I attended was called “Lightness of Being”; we all need a little bit of that, don’t we? There is a lightness of being when we flip our bodies and our minds upside down, when we look at things from a different perspective.

Click for source. Kino MacGregor is amazing!

I spent two hours in hand stands, shoulder stands and headstands. It was amazing. I don’t know if it is years of swimming, my stroke being butterfly, that strengthened my shoulders or that balance is my strength over flexibility, but I love balancing on my head and shoulders. Maybe I just like the feeling of my blood going in the opposite direction. I feel invigorated after a good head stand; I liken it to three cups of coffee but without the jitters. When I steadied myself and breathed in and out with my eyes closed, I could almost feel tears well at the beauty of a new point of view.

In meditation, rather than an out of body experience, I feel lifted into space, into Oneness; all borders disappear and illumination glows all around me. That is, until I suddenly feel an itch on my foot and wonder what I will have for dinner. But it is there, the opportunity to be lifted into lightness is always there if we allow it.

It is the same with inversions. Once we are flip-flopped and find our balance, we can breathe and take in the new perspective. Maybe new ideas surface, answers present or situations become clear. Sometimes it isn’t until later in the day, maybe the next day that we understand. As my blood settled back into flowing right side up, I drove across the Bay heading toward the beach to meet family and friends and suddenly the tears started. It was as if leading with my heart that afternoon offered a new perspective and woke me up to the life I am living; the reminder that I am here, now.

I wanna turn the whole thing upside down….I don’t want this feeling to go away

I recently learned of a lesson taught with a folded piece of paper. Start with a clean, new sheet of paper. Fold it in half, again and again and again until it is so small that it can’t be folded anymore. Unfold it until it is whole again. Then fold again. Would you fold it in a different way or go with the creases that already exist? Which is easiest?

Thinking patterns develop to protect ourselves, to justify our actions and self-preserve. Old ways of doing things (the creased paper) bring old results or rather the same result. We determine what will happen by our thinking. Psychologists say “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior”, in essence, that history repeats itself. I agree with that only if a person is unable or unwilling to see things from a different perspective, to turn things upside down and see there are many other ways to fold the paper. By preserving ourselves with old patterns, we are closing ourselves off to limitless opportunities for growth.

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed how different my life is from just a few years ago. From the outside, things look about the same but from inside my mind and body, a shift has been occurring for some time. I am a work in process but about a year ago, events happened in my life that made me unhappy with the way I was, how I viewed relationships, what I expected and how I expected others to be something different to make me happy. Slowly over the course of a year, I began my yoga practice, then my meditation practice and came to learn myself… all of myself. In some of those difficult moments of seeing how I have done wrong, I learned to forgive myself; for all of my neurotic moments as a new mother, for all the ways in which I tried to control people and situations, for all the judgmental thoughts I have had.

As I have loosened the grips on old patterns of thinking and ways of being, I feel a lightness of being. Shifting my set ways upside down, I realize that time is ticking and it is time to start living. Some days may be too tiring to go against the creases in the paper and easier to just fold the way it is trained. We all have those days. But in the long run, the more we shift our perspective, freedom creeps in and there is no going back. No longer do we need to create self-fulfilling prophecies if we allow people, situations, and things to be, to grow alongside us. Each new day brings the opportunity for new ideas, new thoughts and a lightness of being.

History cannot repeat itself when it is inverted.

Go upside down (safely and with support of course ) and see what it does for you!

Click here for more information on the benefits of yoga inversions


31 thoughts on “Upside Down

  1. Lovely writing Kerry! I envy your passion for yoga. I am waiting for the day when I see it differently. I am very conscious about the way I look when doinh yoga. Yep, I have a long way to go! Long, long way. 🙂

  2. I too love inversions. Being able to turn myself upside down and support myself feels exhilarating and powerful. I can’t yet do all of the inversions, but for the few I can do I must always get past the fear that in my efforts I will slam my head against a wall or otherwise harm myself. Once I decide to trust myself however, the whole thing goes much more smoothly. Just like life!

    • Yes, exactly. I have a hard time with some of the inversions too. I really love headstand though. I did it today for the first time in a class without the wall. I was really happy about that but then got nervous about it and that is when I started wobbling. When I stopped focusing on those thoughts, I steadied again. Trusting ourselves is key.

  3. I think it was Einstein who said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.”
    Beautiful post. I really want to start yoga, but it seems I am folding my paper the easy way… Plus, nobody wants to see me inverted.
    I need to look for a class. The husband can watch the kids for one evening a week, right?

  4. All I can think about is the pressure that would be in my head, that freaks me out. But maybe my sinuses are just full today! I’m so very happy to hear that you got to really enjoy your session and even more happy to hear that you are making changes in your life that are resulting in your happiness. That you aren’t looking to others to make you happy, but finding the peace inside yourself!

  5. What a wonderful post – and so inspiring for me who is just starting out! I am really looking forward to inversions and am very excited about my yoga journey. It is just amazing that you can look back and see those changes in yourself. I think the changes inside, that other’s can’t necessarily see, are often the most important ones of all.

    • I agree. Often the outward changes don’t last and arise out of seeking something deeper. I am loving the journey…so many unexpected surprises have come along the way. Xo

  6. Rather than in Yoga I relate to your comparison on our perceptions of life. If we can learn to view things differently it can lead to so many worthwhile changes and new understanding.
    Letting your heart be above your head is an excellent way of putting it.
    It’s been a while since I’ve stood on my head but I might give it a go. With a few hands nearby just in case. 😉

    • Good idea 😉 yes, it has taken me a loooong time to finally realize the truth available in new ways of thinking. I’ve said before, I’m a stubborn mule but I am learning to loosen up and not be such a donkey 😉

  7. Wonderful post! You know I’m an inversion junkie myself, although not nearly as accomplished as you I think. I’m on a mission to find an inversions workshop near me. I love what you said about old patterns and I’ve been feeling so much the same way about my own life. It is a wonderful feeling!

    • That’s awesome! Yes, my fellow yogi, I know how you love inversions. I am hardly accomplished, I just love them anyway. I do a good headstand but hand stands and forearm balances are challenging. I just love trying them all.

  8. This is such a terrific essay! Lovely sentiments and your words flow like my hatha class, graceful and strong.
    I had to try out the paper exercise, and plan to have my kids do it over dinner tonight – just to see what route they choose.
    I bet I may learn something new about them – and hopefully find a teaching moment.

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