I remember the first time I managed to do a straight Sirsasana (or headstand in common parlance) on my own. It lasted for all of two seconds: a moment of bewildered incredulity that promptly terminated when consciousness of my achievement set in.
Why that moment was memorable was not so much because of the achievement involved, but because of the sensation that accompanied it. In those two seconds, I felt an incredible lightness—exceeded only by the vertiginous feeling that I was going to topple over to the floor. From doing the Sirsasana, I learned one thing: it’s precisely at the point when we feel that we’re about to fall that we actually take flight.
Not surprisingly, I do not often do a perfectly straight Sirsasana. Familiarity hasn’t completely eliminated the fear involved in the last two degrees to being fully perpendicular. I find more safety and stability in being slightly askew, though it requires significantly more effort. (And here, we find yet another compelling parallel between life on the mat and off the mat: it’s riskier to surrender to flight, but it also takes far less strain that trying to control everything.)
In my life right now, I feel as if I’m suspended in the last two degrees to being fully perpendicular. And this is the lesson I have to learn (quite repeatedly it seems): let go, let go, surrender—and fly.