I love the feeling of my feet reaching towards the sky, lightly floating through the air. I first experienced this in a shoulder stand, watching my toes point towards the ceiling above me, free and weightless. When I was ready, I set up for my first headstand. Creating a stable base with my hands and head, I eagerly sent my feet up above me. Obviously I fell a few times. I even took down other headstanders next to me in class once (fortunately, they didn’t hold grudges). As soon as I was ready to hold myself up stably in a headstand, I couldn’t stop turning myself upside down.
During this time, I was also forging my way through high school, balancing classes, homework, clubs, work, and yoga all at once. When the hours of homework stressed me out, I took inversion breaks to kick my feet up. Before big exams, I kicked up into handstands against the hallway walls. My feet balancing in the air reminded me of my freedom and stability in the midst of difficulty.
During high school I also completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training, which led me to Grounded Yoga trainings. At first I didn’t think teaching yoga to kids was for me. I like kids, and I like yoga, but the first time I put the two together I couldn’t even get the kids to stay on their mats, let alone stop talking, and I was used to adult classes where everyone just follows my cues.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to intern with Cheryl at Fernbank Elementary. There was one girl who represented everything that scared me about kids’ yoga. She complained, left her mat, wouldn’t follow directions. Then one day she learned how to stand on her head and she, like me when I first learned, didn’t want to do anything else. So we went to the side of the room and I showed her how to make a stable base so her feet could float through the air. I had fun, because all I was doing was showing her how to do what I loved to do.
When I started teaching my first teen class, I was nervous to be teaching students not far from my own age. I decided to teach restorative poses with bolsters at the end of class because that’s all I wanted after a long day of school, and every class after that they asked for restorative poses. I soon realized that teaching all yoga to kids is nothing more than showing them what I love to do, like teaching headstands at Fernbank.
Being upside down reminds me of my freedom and power, but also to teach what I love. The world is a lot less intimidating upside down.