What Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Smarter

Jim in Headstand

Jim in Headstand

I practice yoga, and over the winter I attended a workshop on Inversions (all the “upside down” and hand balancing poses). For the past two years I have worked my practice daily, and achieved a Headstand last year (imagine, at age 55, learning to stand on my head!).
The next level of challenge for me is being able to pop into a full Handstand. So I’ve been practicing the “hop” for a couple months, since the workshop. Imagine me hands down on the mat, my butt sticking straight up in the air and one leg extended fully with the toe of the other on the ground. WIth my grounded foot I hop up, simultaneously swinging the upper leg up over my head. For two months, I’ve been able only to get a foot or two off the ground.
Well yesterday morning I really took off. The hop was a good one, and I could feel my hips swivel up over my body, and for a moment — a GLORIOUS moment — I was completely balanced on my hands. Yay!
Problem… I don’t yet have a feel for my balance while on my hands. I don’t know how to manage the energy.  My body kept going, up, up, and then… down, down.  I have this really visceral memory of feeling weightless and suspended in air… as I fell, backwards, flat on my back. Whummp!
I lay there for a moment, stunned. I realized I was OK, but the breath was totally knocked out of me. After I could breathe again, I finished with a few stretches, and headed for the shower. It did not really occur to me that I’d just fallen from a height of three feet onto a concrete floor. All I knew was, I’d finally nailed it!
Later, the pain showed up.  For much of the day I had great difficulty finding a comfortable way to sit. Clients noticed that I was squirming a lot, and was having difficulty sitting back in my chair. A small part of me was wondering, “did I break any ribs? Will I be bruised?”
Today, I was VERY STIFF from my hips up to my neck, but no bruises. (I actually had trouble getting out of bed – I felt like 120 years old!)
So I did what I always do when I feel stiff: more Yoga! I did about 20 minutes this morning, just to warm up my body, including a couple hops to warm up for  Handstand .
But this time, I’m working against a wall rather than in the middle of the room! I may be stupid once, but that’s it! 
One of my mantras is, “we only learn by falling down.”  I usually mean it in a figurative sense, but for a while I will have a real lesson of my own around Falling Down.  Bam!
Risk nothing, learn nothing.  This applies to yoga, life, and leadership.  Try something you’ve not achieved before.  You may fall, yet trust that you’ll learn something from the experience, and you’ll be better for it.

Read more articles like this one in: Health, Leadership, Practicing Happiness

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