Sarvangasana - Shoulder Stand

The Shoulder Stand, or Sarvangasana, is a pose that helps relax stress-prone areas in your back and neck. It is also good for blood circulation.

Ok, this is the description you will find for one of the most challenging poses I have encountered. There was nothing relaxing about working on this pose. Decades of "failing" to stay in this inversion actually pissed me off. I diligently planked, down-dogged and dolphined to strengthen my shoulders, triceps and biceps. My entry into this pose was utilizing the wall. I felt satisfied to have the blood trickle to by brain, creating the same holistic enjoyment as capturing the pose sans support.

But the more I watched non-yogis easily invert, my competitive nature took hold. I was strong, mindful, flexible. What was really holding me back?

Fear. Yep. That 4 letter word. The same word that caused me to struggle with the crow pose. Falling on my face is neither fun nor enlightening. I had to have a shot of liquid courage and play around in order to get into a shoulder stand. I could instruct and assist students into this pose all day long. So what created the change in me?

A particular yoga student's indirect ability to coach me through the mental block. I've been coached by half a dozen instructors who made it seem so easy. This wasn't easy for me, and having a professional with a professional mind frame wasn't resonating with me. What inadvertently created the mental shift was hearing it through a beginner's mind. My ego wasn't clogging my ears. I was open to having a casual conversation in a voice that hadn't become a familiar sound. Simply put, my student broke the steps down in a non-yogi way and it was a fresh approach to my practice.

I let go of fear and allowed myself to embrace the pose. I worked on breathing my way into each step of the pose. I mediated my way through fear and took note of what needed to occur. I didn't force anything. I didn't do it the way I was suppossed to do it based on other yoga instructors. I did it the way my body allowed. I listed to my own voice and physical cues.

My shoulder stand may not look like anyone else's, but it' mine. I am forever grateful to have the opportunity to learn and grow through my own students.

This is what yoga is about.