A few years ago, I gave up on the traditional headstand because it aggravated a nerve in my neck and shoulder. Instead, I opted for tripod headstand, which one of my teachers said wasn’t optimal because there was no way to relieve the pressure my head and neck. But my tripod headstand game was strong and I enjoyed my ability to do a headstand in the middle the room, whatever the variation.

Then earlier this year I lost mobility and strength in my shoulders and even when I started to feel strong again, I was afraid of headstand. That is until I got an assignment in one of my YTT courses to practice one pose every day for two weeks. I could say that I chose headstand, but I’m fairly certain the post chose me as a way to work through some of the fear associated with my shoulders. My brain tried to convince me to chose another pose; instead, I chose to walk into the fire of my fear and practice headstand.

The first day in class we took stock of where we were and I was frustrated with the reality that I needed the support of the wall. Objectively, I understand that there’s nothing wrong with needing support, especially when building strength, but I had an expectation that I should be able to do it without the wall. And last night I was offered some “yogi playtime” and the opportunity to practice my headstand during a regular class.

I pulled my mat toward the wall and began my set up. And for the first time in a long time, there was a sense of ease about the pose as I lifted my legs over my head. I pressed firmly into my forearms, breathed strong and steady while also finding the strength and stability in a headstand, unsupported by the wall.

Who knows what it’ll look like next time I do it, but last night I felt accomplished by the progress I had made through consistent practice. And therein lies the heart of yoga: never giving up, while letting go of the expectation that you should or could be anything other than exactly what you are.