365 handstand challenge

The Adventure of #handstand365

Yesterday was a big day for me. It was my 365th day of learning to handstand. When I started, on Mother's Day last year, I couldn't handstand at all. At first I just worked on building strength by handstanding at the wall, then after about a month I started experimenting with freestanding handstands. And now I am comfortable and confident doing a few different kinds of handstands. The last two weeks of my 365 Handstand Challenge I focused on handstanding by Round Rock landmarks (thank you for the suggestion, Terri!). And I wanted to feature big, important Round Rock landmarks the last two days of the challenge. My photographer friend, Laura Jenkins, graciously agreed to capture these special images.

Day 364 was the Dell Diamond. Here are couple of the cool images we captured there.

DD bleachers


DD field

I'd like to tell you about Day 365, because it was a very important one to me - I wanted to feature the round rock that Round Rock is named after. I've actually wanted to do a photo shoot at the round rock for a couple of years, but I was waiting for the perfect time. I was waiting for the water level to be high, but the weather not too cold, nor the sun too bright. And I was waiting so that I could learn some fun arm balances.

Over the last few weeks I successfully handstood on a few rocks, so I felt ready.

Laura and I selected a day, and we decided that even if the conditions weren't ideal, we were going for it anyway. Laura said if we were lucky it might rain before the shoot, but I was doubtful.

Our chosen day was in the middle of last week. Miraculously, it poured the night before and the water level was high. But unfortunately, we were faced with a number of obstacles for our photo shoot that morning.

First, the road was closed because a city crew was cleaning large branches out of the creek. We parked a block away and walked to the rock, and were happy to find the water level was pretty high and the rock surface was relatively dry.

However, the water was really rushing and it took some time for me to figure out how to actually get from the street onto the rock. I decided on the route that was shorter with deeper water. Then I had to figure out how to safely lower myself down about 6.5 feet (3.5 feet to the surface of the water + water depth of approximately 3 ft), so I could wade over to the rock.

But then we saw a snake swimming in the water, just left of my intended path! After several minutes we couldn't see him anymore and I was about ready to get in the water, but then we saw a second snake. And that's when I decided I wasn't going to get in the water after all.

Laura suggested that we get a raft, and after a bit of discussion that's exactly what we did. The nice folks at Academy even helped us blow it up with an electric pump!

Finally we made it back to the round rock with the inflatable raft stuffed inside my SUV.

We lowered the raft down into the water, then I lowered myself down into the raft. The current floated me over to the round rock and I was able to safely get onto the rock (dry and free of snake bites!). Laura used a rope to pull the empty raft back to land and tied it up. We were in business!

I tried a bunch of different yoga poses on the rock (the surface is very uneven and it has some deep holes!) and Laura shot photos. Curious people slowed down to check us out, waved, gave us a thumbs up, and honked. I was a little surprised the police didn't show up, like that time when I was handstanding downtown.

It felt great to finally be doing the photo shoot on the round rock!

rock handstand


rock reverse warrior

rock crow

When the shoot was done Laura floated the raft to me then pulled me back to the bridge. It was quite a bit of effort to get out of the raft and back on land. Long story short, it required lifting one leg really high, balancing on the other leg in the drifting raft, braving a ton of little black bugs, some cobwebs, exerting some muscles, and rolling up into the bridge.


rock raft

What an adventure! A big giant thank you to Laura for her support, enthusiasm, and creativity, to get this Day 365 photo done! We'd been planning it a long time and I think it's safe to say we both feel a sense of accomplishment.

This 365 Handstand Challenge has been such an incredible experience. I'm going to take some time to process it, then in the next few weeks I plan to write about what I learned by handstanding for 365 days. Please stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, we've got a ton of great programs and projects coming up at the studio. Please keep reading for all the details!


XO, Zelinda

P.S. Several people have asked me what I'm going to do now that #handstand365 is done. Well, I'm going to keep handstanding so that I can keep up the strength I've gained. And I'm taking on a new 365 Challenge of something I've wanted to do for years - I'm going to learn to play guitar! (Don't worry - I won't post videos!)

Are Yoga Selfies Feeding Yogis' Egos?

Thirty-one days ago I embarked upon a 365 day handstand challenge. I should let you know that 31 days ago I didn't know the first thing about how to handstand. All I knew was that I wanted to learn. I was inspired to such madness by Amber Shumake, a yoga teacher I'd been following on Facebook, but who I've never met in person. Amber wrapped up her 365 day handstand challenge on Mother's Day, and one day a few weeks ago, without giving it any logical thought at all, I posted a comment on one of her posts and told her and the universe that I was picking up the torch. I would start my 365 days the day after she finished hers.

So for the past 31 days, I've been posting a video of my progress on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

handstand challenge

Since this is really the only consistent "public" view of my yoga practice, I wanted to take a moment to provide some context around the handstands and what my real yoga practice looks like.

My real yoga practice consists of a lot of laying down I have issues with my sacrum and my left SI joint, and they're painful pretty much every day. Like most everyone, I have a lot of tightness in my upper back, shoulders, and neck. I teach and practice a very therapeutic style of yoga, so my yoga practice is intended to address my trouble spots and reduce tightness and pain so my body will be happy.

I pretty much always warm up with a lot of very slow paced laying down postures. Just laying on my back (on the floor) brings relief to my sacrum. I do a variety of poses to stretch out my legs and hips. If I have time and energy, I might also do a few down dogs or standing poses.

My real practice is pretty boring to watch compared to the handstands, but if you want to get an idea of what it looks like you can check it out here. Please note that this is the end part of my practice, after I was completely warmed up.

And the handstands are pretty much the polar opposite of my real practice. They're quick and flashy and mostly just for fun. But I've realized that they do provide an excellent opportunity for increasing strength and also for self-study, both in the moment and later when I review the videos, and to me, self-study is a very important aspect of yoga.

In my handstand practice I pay attention to so many details: the position of my hands, shoulders, hips, legs, and feet; the engagement of different muscles throughout my body; how I'm breathing; my energy level.

By sharing the videos online, I'm not only holding myself accountable, but I'm also creating a visual timeline of my progress. An on-going "Before" and "After".

And maybe more importantly, I'm a real life representation of our Yoga for EveryBody philosophy. If you look up #handstand on Facebook or Instagram, you're pretty much only going to find super-fit, young, thin yogis, and me. And while, yes, of course, I wish I was in better shape, I'm also proud to show that yoga is indeed for every body.

Alright, I'll get off my soapbox now and encourage you to find your own challenge.

Which yoga pose do you wish you could do better or with more ease? It doesn't have to be something flashy like handstand; it could be anything. Maybe a seated forward fold, maybe down dog, or maybe even the basic comfortable sitting position?

Just like with yoga practice, make this challenge your own. Take 30 or 100 or 365 days to consistently work toward your pose. Post a comment and let us know what pose you're committing to work on and for how long. Let us know if you have any questions or need any guidance.

Then take a photo or video every single day and decide if you want to keep it for yourself or if you want to share it on social media.

If you keep it for yourself, I suggest naming each photo "Day 1", "Day 2", etc., and putting them all into a single folder to keep them organized so that you can go back and review your progress. You might even keep a journal of notes and observations to go along with your photos.

If you decide you want to post your Challenge photos online, use the hashtag #rryogaroom so that we can keep up with your progress, too!

I'm so excited about this! I've learned a lot in my first 31 days of handstanding, and I'm sure you're going to learn a lot about yourself and your body if you decide to join me in this Challenge.

Let me know if you have any questions!

P.S. So getting back to the question about whether yoga selfies just serve to feed the yogi's ego, my opinion is that it depends. Selfies might be used as a learning tool (that's mainly what mine are for me) or they might be used to show everyone in social-media-land just how cool and awesome you are. It depends on the yogi :)