Chronicles of Yoga: Standing on my Head

It was a rainy Wednesday. A meeting finished late and I had to run to Perea for my Wednesday yoga class. As I arrived breathlessly at the Echo Yoga studio, I saw the teacher, the master of all yogis, the Jedi, Yoda of all yogis in Manila if you will, Bela Lipat, perched on her head, upside down.

I stopped dead in my tracks. If she made me do a headstand right there and then, I'd most probably run.

The Headstand {Sirsha Asana in Sanskrit} is the ultimate ending pose in most types of yoga, especially in the one I've been practicing, Ashtanga. I've known about it for the longest time but it always scared me to death, I was scared I'd fall and break my neck in front of the other yogi students and die a second in shame.

So for the next one and a half years, I just launched into the dolphin pose {a preparatory pose for headstand} whenever my Ashtangi classmates would be standing on their heads for a full five minutes. "See the world differently," my teacher Jeannie would say, and I would always think I'll never get to see the world as they did.

After a year or so, I finally did.

It was one of those classes we had at the office, for when you become too busy to go out for yoga, the only way is to bring yoga to where you are. Another Echo Yoga teacher, Sen, who was also my first ever teacher came on Tuesdays. Some months ago, when my officemate classmates would crumple into child's pose after practice, she would challenge my rather incessant fear of being embarrassed in front of people who actually knew me. "Top of head on the floor, hands clasped like a book, strong core, knees together and lift," was what she instructed. She always reminded me that the weight should always be on the arms and not on the head so I perfected my plank pose days ahead and readied myself for a yoga milestone.

"Lift," she gently instructed me and stood behind my head just in case I chose to put myself to shame. I didn't, thankfully. Nothing, I felt nothing. I didn't feel dizzy {though I've done handstands as a kid and in gymnastics} and the world didn't crumble below my head. The world did indeed look different, I could feel my blood rushing through my veins and it was tough talking upside down. I felt like jumping for joy but I realized I was inverted so I shut up my mouth. The world was unaware that in my little world, I just achieved something new and I am completely a different person now.

And maybe it's time to take this yoga practice further. Or my life for that matter.