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!)

Yoga & Fear

My friend and fellow yoga teacher Stacy recently began a 365 Day Handstand Challenge, just like I’ve been doing since May. The other day when she posted her daily handstand photo, it sparked some really great conversation on her Facebook page. My friend Kay brought up the issue of fear. Challenging inversions like handstand and headstand bring up a lot of fear for Kay.

She wrote, “It absolutely scares the bejeebers out of me… Yoga has taught me that I operate out of fear more often than I realized. Maybe that means I should face it full on and conquer it, but on the other hand I really don't want to.”

And being the student of self-study that I am, I found this to be a really intriguing question. With Kay’s permission, I’m sharing her comment and my thoughts about fear here today…

My experience of fear in handstanding is not so much related to the physics of standing on my hands. I’m pretty comfortable trusting my arms to support the weight of my body when I’m upside down.

fear and yoga

It’s taken months of a little bit of practice every day to build up strength in my fingers, hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, back, and core. And now I’m at the point where after a little bit of warm up, I can pretty much handstand on cue. But it certainly wasn’t always this way.

My fear in handstanding is the fear of “What will people think?” I realized it about a month in when I attempted my first handstand in a public place with strangers around. By that point I was getting pretty proficient at catching at least a little bit of air with my handstands. But whenever I would try to handstand in public my fear around What People Think would throw me off so much that I COULD NOT FOCUS at all. I attempted handstand after handstand with pathetic results.

What exactly was I scared about? I was worried that people might think I’m annoying or silly or acting like a kid or not being a good parent or setting a bad example or blocking a walkway or seeking attention or showing off or SOMETHING. Whew, now that I see that all written out I realize what a huge burden that is to carry around.

And so then I decided that I would use the 365 Day Handstand Challenge not only to learn how to handstand, but also to overcome my fear about What People Think. It really isn’t any of my business what people think. But even if it was, what I’m realizing is that more often that not, people get excited about handstands.

They make positive and encouraging comments. They smile. They ask me what I’m doing. They ask about yoga. And sometimes after I tell them about the 365 Challenge and how I really couldn’t handstand at all when I started, they even get inspired to try yoga. But I digress.

Based on my own handstand fear experience, I think that working to overcome a fear, even in tiny baby steps, is definitely worthwhile. When you lose fear, you gain freedom. You gain peace. You gain confidence in yourself. You may even gain some new skills that you would never have imagined.

For me, what I’ve gained is a much improved level of focus and the realization that things aren’t always as I perceive them to be.

I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) not to worry about What People Think. I make sure people aren’t standing or walking so close by that I might accidentally kick them on the way up, but aside from that I don’t really notice them, much less worry about them.

They can think whatever they want. They might think badly of me, in which case they probably aren’t going to say anything anyway. Or they might think well of me, in which case they may walk up to me and say something awesome that makes my day.

Either way, I’m doing my thing. I’m getting stronger. My focus is getting sharper. I’m gaining freedom from my former fear of What People Think. I’m gaining peace.

And now I’d love to hear from you! Under which circumstances do you think it’s worthwhile to stare fear down. What is a fear you’ve overcome? Please post your comments below.

Zelinda 2013XO, Zelinda