On the Thrills of Victory


So I’ve been cooped up in my house for the last three days, and everything would have been perfectly alright if not for the fact that solipsistic contentment also tends to result in event deprivation. Said another way, there’s been very little for me to write about because not much has actually happened.

At least until today, when my almost Zen-like tranquility was disrupted by a minor revolution of sorts, namely: actually holding Śīrșāsana (known less dramatically in English as the headstand) for the length of time bull riders are required to stay atop a bull (namely: eight seconds).

Now, to call this achievement a revolution is slightly arbitrary in the sense that I could have waited until the moment when I’d actually held the pose for the requisite twenty-five breaths (something that assuredly takes far longer than eight seconds) and called that event a revolution. I’m maintaining a blog, however, and that means generating news when there are none to report.

The demands of writing aside, there is some authenticity to my claim to having produced a breakthrough. Of all the yoga poses with which I was familiar in the four years prior to doing my teacher training, I had intentionally avoided practicing the headstand out of outright terror. Apart from a single occasion where an instructor was present, I never even attempted to learn the pose, having dismissed its achievement as an impossibility from the very beginning.

So it was with some chagrin when I arrived at my teacher training and discovered that I was one of merely four students in the entire class who couldn’t execute the pose. So with enormous trepidation, I wrote down in my form that among my objectives for the training was “learning how to do Śīrșāsana on my own.”

I didn’t achieve my objective during those four weeks—though perhaps the victory there was in learning to accept my failure gracefully. And, as happens so often in yoga, learning to be indifferent to the results is what often yields them. I stopped expecting I’d ever learn the headstand—and two weeks after my teacher training ends, I find myself able to do it for tiny durations of gradually increasing length.

All of which proves that, at the end of the day, more practice is all that’s truly necessary.

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