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Are Handstanders Just Showing Off?


“Why not show off if you’ve got something to show?” — January Jones

I used to think that people who posted photos and/or videos of themselves doing handstands or other difficult yoga poses were just being show offs. Maybe it’s because I was a little jealous. Or maybe it’s because I didn’t understand why the heck they felt like they had to share their accomplishments with everyone. But that was before I started working on handstands.

If you’ve never tried doing a handstand, you don’t realize what an accomplishment it is to finally do one. Or come close to doing one. Or finally advance enough in your kicking at the wall practice that you’re not worried about putting a hole through the plaster while you’re doing it. And it’s those kinds of accomplishments that you really do want to share with others. Not as a “Look at me and what I can do!” kind of sharing, but as a “Look at what I’ve worked so hard to accomplish! I’m so happy and proud of all the hard work I’ve done that I have to share it!”

Granted, I can’t speak for everyone who does handstands, but as someone who’s been working on it for seven years, every additional millisecond of hang time, every time I can kick up and hold for a little bit longer than the time before, every advancement in my practice is cause for celebration and sharing. And it’s more than sharing what I can do, it’s sharing the idea that if you put in the work and practice, practice, practice, try, try, try, work, work, work, everyone can accomplish things they once thought were impossible if they set goals, put forth the effort, and refuse to throw in the towel — even when you feel so darn discouraged some days that you feel like giving up.

I mean, who really cares if I’m able to do a handstand? Does it matter if a 57-year-old grandmother improves her hang time or starts bringing her feet together after she kicks up? My grandchildren might talk about it later in life when they compare grandparent abilities with their friends (I gotta admit that it would be kinda fun to hear them saying, “My grandma can do a handstand. What about yours?” when talking with their friends), but right now they’re not all that interested in my handstanding prowess, and that’s really not the reason I started working on handstands in the first place.

It was for me. To prove to myself that I could learn to do a handstand after the age of 50  (when I started), and that I’d keep getting stronger and more proficient at it after 57 (where I am now). I truly feel happy every single time I do it. And sometimes, I like to share that happiness that comes with accomplishment.

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