Monday, July 28, 2014

My New Project 365: 365 Handstands


On February 28th, 2014 I began a little project to do a handstand every day for a year. I'm up to 152 days now, and I thought it was about time to write a blog about why I decided to embark on this little journey! 
 If you have floated around on this blog at all (or are lucky enough to get it emailed to you every time I post!) then you know that this is not my first 365 project.  In 2012 I took a picture every day for an entire year (posting them all here) and it was an absolute blast, so for me this is kind of a new twist on an old favorite. That being said, here are the reasons I chose to pick up another 365 project and in particular, 365 handstands.

(1) Making Every Day Count:  I think the great thing about having one small (fun) thing to do every day is that it really forces you to be mindful each and every day of not letting the time slip through your fingers. So often we rush through life from one day to the next - they string together, day in and day out we have routine and obligations. Mondays might be particularly icky and Fridays especially freeing, but it is so easy to let the days just float on by. Giving myself one fun thing that I do every single day helps me to capture the day just the tiniest bit for myself.  It helps me to mark the passage of time in a positive way and to make sure that I don't let even one day fall through the cracks. 
(2) A Moment of Freedom:  For me, handstands are freedom. There is just something so fun about being on my hands, I can't get enough of it. As adults, we spend too much time being 'grown ups' and not enough time letting go.  Standing on my feet or sitting on my butt are often associated with obligations: work, chores, finances... (and of course sometimes candy crush!) But being on my hands is always for me. I'm not doing anything for anyone else when I'm on my hands - I'm letting go and giving myself some play time, and I LOVE that 365 handstands has given me an excuse to play a little bit every single day.
(3) An Atmosphere of Growth:  Handstands are not the end-all-be-all. As my yoga teachers often remind us, it's not going to get me into heaven, it's not going to help me help someone in need, beyond my mat it's really just a stupid human trick. But what makes it so fun and I think why it is such a great focus for so many yogis, is that it represents a challenge.  A mountain to climb.  According to the book "The Happiness Project" one of the biggest keys to happiness is to exist in an atmosphere of growth. Working on my handstands has been a super awesome and fun way to constantly be growing in a tangible way.  When I started, I could comfortably kick up into a handstand leaning on the wall, and that was it. Only 8 days into my project I experienced my first 'hang time' without touching the wall! Now I can hold it for up to 5 seconds in the middle of a room.  Today I did a tuck handstand for the first time ever and last week I did a straddle handstand for the first time ever, and it was exciting!! Working on handstands in particular (with so many variations and so many fun ways to get into and out of the pose) gives me opportunities on a weekly, sometimes daily basis, to rejoice in small victories.  And don't we all need a little more rejoicing in our daily lives?! I can't wait to see where I'll be in another 150 days!

(4) Chronicling a Journey:  Every day I do a handstand. Most days its just a couple of minutes after my regular yoga practice. Some days I spend 5 or 10 minutes working on it, lots of days I really have no time to work on it and I just pop up, snap a picture, and go about my business.  The point is that I'm not dedicating my life to this handstand business, in any given week I'm dedicating about ~7 - 28 minutes total on my handstand. But that little amount has caused me to grow leaps and bounds in my practice in just 5 months.  It is a constant reminder that in all areas in life I do not need to master anything NOW - nothing is mastered in a day.  But small, consistent steps in the direction that I am going will add up to huge results in the long run.  Doing a handstand every day has been a metaphor for showing me that discipline and consistency are the most important things I need to get anywhere in life. Not huge chunks of uninterrupted time (although those help sometimes too!) but really looking at where I want to go and making an effort to consistently take small steps in that direction will get me there. And what a great thing that is to teach yourself.
(5) An Artistic Outlet:  Taking a picture a day of all of my handstands has given me a reason to look at the world around me again (just like with my first Project 365) looking for new and fun places to do my handstand, or new angles from which to take the picture, new photo editing apps on my phone, and new shapes with my body. It is just a really fun way to exercise the left side of my brain every day - even if it's only to create an InstaGram image!
So there you have it... the reasons I do a handstand every day.  Perhaps posting pictures of myself every day on InstaGram is a little narcissistic and self indulgent... yes perhaps (but can't that argument be made for most social media activity in general!?).  And perhaps I am perpetuating some glorification of handstands instead of the ideal that all asanas are created equal or perverting my practice by making it about outward appearance of the asanas instead of the inner journey they take us on... Yes an argument can be made for all of those things.  But this is not my intent. I have no control over how other people will interpret my handstand photos, but isn't that just a fact of life. None of us have any control over how our actions or words will be interpreted. All we can do is be honest about what we put out there and stay true to ourselves.  
All I can say is that I am having a blast playing on my hands, and I intend to continue to do it for as long as I can!!
 
If you want to follow my handstand journey, find me on InstaGram @razzelberry!!

 

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