It turns out a little extra support was all I needed to conquer my yogi fears and attempt a headstand.
When it comes to group fitness, I’m open to just about anything. But for some reason, I've always been intimidated by yoga beyond beginner level. At the peak of my yogi confidence, I tried intermediate/advanced classes—which I would regret when headstand o’clock rolled around, and I was the only person with my feet on the ground. (I couldn't even kick up against the wall!) Was nobody else visualizing her neck snapping? My headstand fears were so bad, I even lied about a neck injury when an instructor offered guidance. Suffice it to say, my relationship with yoga has been ... complicated.
Then, a few weeks ago, I was invited to try a TRX-yoga fusion class, in which you use a TRX suspension trainer to support your body in challenging poses. Because new classes excite me, I decided to look past the yoga part to learn how to work with TRX in a different way.
The small demo class was taught by trainer Shauna Harrison, who guided us through several classic postures, including warrior III, crow, and a backbend. With the extra support of the TRX, these poses weren't so daunting. In fact, they were completely doable for me. In traditional classes, I've struggled through crow, for example. But the TRX cable had my back (er… feet). Without the fear of falling, I was able to focus on perfecting my form—and prepping my muscles for an actual headstand.
I found a similar ease with the backbend. Harrison demonstrated how to use the TRX to support your body. Normally, lifting into backbend from the ground feels taxing. With the aid of the TRX, you are free to focus more on opening your chest, hips, and back to improve spinal flexibility. A backbend is actually one of the few positions I’ve always been able to do. But the help of the straps I was able to get a much deeper stretch, since I could hold the position longer without my arms quaking.
Then it was time for the pose I'd been dreading. Even though I was impressed by how helpful the TRX straps could be, I was still skeptical they could get me into a headstand. Then something surprising happened: The instructor actually identified with my fear. She told me it’s perfectly normal to be afraid of doing a headstand and that even she (a sponsored UnderArmour athlete) wasn’t able to do it for a long time.
Suddenly I wasn’t so scared or embarrassed. I put my forehead to the floor without panicking. I slipped one foot into the handles of both straps and lifted the other off the ground. With my hips stacked over my shoulders, my body was in a suspended pike (still not panicking). Then I raised my free leg higher and felt more weight on my head (okay, starting to panic). As I struggled to straighten that single leg, the instructor assured me that staying in a folded pike position was totally fine, and a huge step in the right direction (panic dismissed).
So no, I didn’t nail my first headstand (sorry to disappoint). But I did walk out of class with a goal, and faith that I’d attain it one day. It may take a few more tries before I get vertical, but this class made me feel more confident in my body's strength and ability. Thanks for the lift, TRX.