I love the headstand. It’s my favorite pose – and always has been.
I need the plough, and the plough needs me – but I don’t love it. When I go into the plough, my feet don’t touch the floor anymore.
I used to think this was because my stomach had gotten to be the size of a basketball and was simply blocking the body from folding. But that’s not it. I’ve lost some weight, and my feet still aren’t touching the floor.
If I practiced yoga near a wall, I could adjust myself so that feet touched the wall, and then walk down a little each day, towards the floor – until I got there, eventually. This is how I first got my feet to the floor, when I first took yoga in a studio, 34 years ago. But I’m not practicing near a wall and just allowing my feet not to reach the floor. I’m not sure how close they are. I don’t think they’re very close.
A few months ago, I was practicing in the bedroom and my wife was on the bed watching TV, and I asked her.
“Are my feet close to the floor?”
I thought they were a few inches away.
“No,” she said.
“How close are they?”
“A foot or two,” she said.
I don’t worry about it too much.
A couple of years ago, I told a yogi that I couldn’t do the plough anymore. My feet didn’t touch the floor.
“What makes you think your feet have to touch the floor?” he asked. “It’s still the plough.”
I’m pretty sure my headstand is about the same as it ever was. In fact, lately, I’ve been very focused and using it was a resting pose.
I go up, find a spec to notice for focus, and rest there for a long time.
It’s only recently that I focus on a spec or dust or lint or material – anything I can find. For years, I did this. Sometimes I actually placed something there, creating the focal point before I went into the headstand.
But in the past year or so I stopped using this. My mind wasn’t focused. I looked around, changing focus from one place to the next, sometimes shutting my eyes and breathing.
But the past couple of weeks I’ve been going up into the headstand trusting that the perfect focal point will appear, and it always does. And I don’t shut my eyes. I focus. And I experience a profound and resting peace.
A focal point creates peace. Without it, there’s an experience of searching, questioning what is right, wondering how I’m doing – always being outside myself.
With the focal point – unplanned, out there, but distinct — there’s being outside myself that creates a stillness that allows me to just be myself, neither out there or in here, but just with the experience.
Today, Sunday, I slept late, had breakfast, and visited my mother. Her eyes were open, but she wasn’t able to direct her eyes towards me. She looked to the side, at my hand, as I held hers. She spoke, barely audible. The sounds were indistinct. Only she knows what she said, if she knows.
Then I spent the entire rest of the day cleaning the kitchen. I cleaned every cabinet, taking everything out and wiping everything and putting it all back and loading my car with items for Goodwill and loading the recycling bins and garbage bags.
The low shelves in the low cabinets were very low, and my back was sore.
The plough, and not touching the floor, and the headstand, as a resting pose, made me – including my back — feel great.