“Okay, breathe. Take a deep breath through your nose and activate your cleansing Ujai breath from the back of your throat. Stand strong in Tàdàsana Mountain pose. Feet together, arms stretched at your sides, palms facing towards the ceiling. Close your eyes. Ground your feet. Feel one with the Earth. Today will be the day.”
Welcome to the narrative that’s been playing in my head for an average of four times a week for almost a year now, since I first introduced Yoga into my life.
I had always been familiar with Yoga, but never felt a commitment to it and its benefits until recently. The Yoga journey is a powerful one that requires a lot of effort, emotional strength, and most of all, patience and humility. You can’t expect to go in knowing how to jump into a headstand straight away, and you might not even get a position as simple as Downward Dog correctly right off the bat, but the learning experience ranges from intensely to subtly identifying the progresses of your practice.
Perhaps I’m getting way ahead of myself here. You see, I’m still elevated from what I was finally able to achieve not mere days before writing this article. Gather ye round, I will tell the tale of how this bazaarite was finally able to break out of her fear and into a posture that she’d only ever dreamed of conquering: Salambasana Sarasana, or in layman’s terms, the supported headstand.
In January 2017, I never thought I’d find myself upside down at an Alive Yoga class circa now. I was attending Vinyasa classes frequently at my gym, and after noticing the precision of my alignment despite my clumsy balance and weak ankles, the instructor told me about Alive Yoga – a well-known studio for Yoga enthusiasts in Kuwait, cradled between canopies of trees in Bneid Al Gar. “They have all these great classes, a discount for new members, and their 30 Day Yoga Challenge is starting next week. You should give it a try and see if you can get into it.”
And so I did. I completed the challenge, kept renewing my membership, and learned more about my body’s strength and capabilities than I ever had doing anything else. I indulged in the variety of classes the studio offered: Vinyasa Flow, Rocket Yoga, and Ashtanga being my favorites. I could never do the headstands, because I’d always recoil in fear every time an instructor would try to help me, so I’d settle on planting my feet firmly on the wall while my hands would flatten the earth and my head would hang down between my shoulders, forming an awkward “L” shape of sorts.
I did this for months and felt that I was only just getting by – a feeling not dissimilar to getting straight C+s in my 10th grade Physics class. But remembering the guidance received by different instructors, I tried to channel the patience, kindness and humility Yoga has taught me to embrace with this mantra: “Don’t rush things. They’ll happen when you’re ready.”
With that in mind, I decided to go with the flow, release all expectations, and see what I could do at Rawan’s 5:30PM Ashtanga class on an idle Sunday afternoon.
We begin in Tàdàsana and activate our breathing. We flow through our vinyasas a total of nine times. We move through strength-building standing sequences, we find control and concentration through our centering balance sequence. We stretch through the invigorating seated sequence, and finish off with our Bridges, Wheels, and shoulder stands. I know what’s coming next, and I feel the butterflies form in my stomach as I get up to move my mat against the wall.
I hesitate and wave Rawan, the sweet and quirky instructor, over to spot me. As she helps me find proper support, I hear myself saying “please don’t leave me, I’m scared.” But before I know it, lift off! I’m positioned in a strong, straight line resembling an (almost) perfect “I” with my shoulders supporting my head.
So, do I think I can do this again? Well, I already have, and that’s a great sign but, the Yoga journey is never-ending, and I still have a lot more to achieve. However, it’s nice to know that I can finally say I know what the world looks like upside down. And let me tell you, it’s certainly a lot different than hanging like an L and staring at the ground.