We did a lot of handstand practice in my recent Shiva Yoga 200hr RYT Teacher Training program in Wenling. One of my first teachers always talked about the wall being such a crutch for people working on their inversions. If you constantly practice kicking up into a handstand and using the wall to catch your balance, you start to lay down this pattern in your mind. Even when you are strong enough and don’t need the wall, it is often really hard to break the pattern in your mind and let go of the “crutch” of using the wall.
My advice to new students is to start out not using the wall at all. Even if you go to the wall for safety, try to catch the balance from the floor. If you touch the wall, start over again. I remember when my teacher, Annie Carpenter, told me one day in class that I had three months to stop using the wall in my inversions. She had noticed the wall had become a “crutch” for me and saw that I wasn’t even trying to find the balance from the ground. I wasn’t happy about being pushed out of my comfort zone.
From the ego comes fear and resistance. How quickly you can get past your fear and resistance and embrace the discomfort of the unknown, feeling vulnerable — will determine how quickly and how much you will grow. Very grateful for Annie, who pushed me out of my comfort zone. Annie taught me so much about the practice of yoga but also about holding space for your students. Sometimes as a teacher you have to teach your students to relax, lighten up, and surrender...and sometimes you have to teach them to get out of their comfort zone, work a little harder, and go deeper into the fire. Thank you for holding the space for me and so many others, Annie, encouraging us to go deeper into the fire, and reminding us to keep smiling and to have fun on the journey.