Why I’m Afraid of Headstand

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My recent success getting into headstand (with a teacher’s help) has definitely made me more courageous taking chances with this pose, but I can’t say I’ve completely gotten over my fear.

When I was 7 or 8, I had a bad experience with a sommersault in gym class: I could never do it, someone pushed me (litterally, with a hand on the back, I rolled awkwardly and came down so hard on my back that it knocked the wind out of me. My neck hurt and I could not breath – for what seemed like a long time, but was probably several seconds.

I do kind of laugh in retrospect. The gym teacher was right there when I couldn’t breathe, so it probably was her who pushed me, thinking I’d just do it and get over my fear. Little did she know I’d still be thinking of this at 33 in yoga classes and blogging about it.

I’ve felt this fear in a few other poses that remind me of the “sommersault prep posture” – crow, forearm stand, tripod headstand when I actually try to get my legs up. I think it was a dramatic enough experience for me that the fear is not even completely conscious. And, to be fair, it’s not completly crazy to be worried about your neck and/or other injuries when learning headstand. If I fell backwards in a class, it’s quite possible I would hurt myself…I can’t really afford time off work or any medical care on top of already paying for insurance.

I’ll still try. It’s fun to be able to do something that I didn’t know I could. As an overweight 7 year old who hated and feared gym class, I would not then have guessed that at this age I’d be getting in to headstand and running half marathons. I’ll probably take it easy though, and back off if I’m getting nervous to the extent I’m likely to hurt myself out of bad alignment or something.

But I’ll try.

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