Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20 -
Watching this and having a panic attack.
I read Dr. Jay’s “The Defining Decade” earlier this year and mostly scoffed at it, probably because it was TOO REAL.
So this is what I’m doing on my day off..
A year ago I couldn’t do headstands.
I remember being at my Yoga Teacher Training in January, 2012 at the Radha Madhav Dham and my fellow trainees were playing with an inversion stool. The would pop up, play with leg variations, come down exhilarated. For me, even a supported inversion was too terrifying at that time - never in my life had I been upside down! I’d never done gymnastics so cartwheels, forward rolls, etc had never been part of my life. The idea of being able to do a headstand seemed ludicrous and unattainable; to me, only the very strong, very brave and very flexible could be capable of such a feat!
Skip forward a few months. It’s early summer and I’ve begun to get more and more courageous in my Dolphin pose. I lift one leg and hold for a few breaths, then switch and do the other side. Sometimes when I’m feeling really brave I kick one leg up and come crashing down ungracefully.
At home, I play with kicking up to the wall. After the first time I’m capable of getting both legs up and straight for a few breaths, I collapse into Child’s Pose and cry because I’m so happy and proud. I’ve accomplished something I’ve never before done!
Over the course of the next few months I hop up to the wall over and over and over again. I’m clumsy, but it becomes more familiar and easier. Of course, I’m continuing my practice during this time and overall, my body is stronger and more flexible.
In March, I took a workshop with Schuyler Grant of Kula Yoga. It was an inversions and backbends workshop - one of the most humbling 2.5 hours of my life. I swear to god I’ve never felt so strong and incapable at the same time. At some point while walking around and giving directions, Shuyler Grant said to me “you don’t need the wall.” Of course, at the time that sounded like absolute nonsense, I’d tried once without the wall and promptly fell over onto my back. Soooo clearly Ms Grant didn’t know what she was talking about - I needed the wall otherwise I’d fall and injure myself, for sure.
It was in this workshop that I learned the one thing that changed my approach to headstand:
1. From Dolphin, inhale and lift your right leg up to the sky.
2. Square your hips so that they’re level, right toes pointing down to the ground. Stay active through the ball of your right foot, engage pada bandha.
3. Hug muscle to bone, engage the quadriceps.
4. Bend the left knee, lifting onto the ball of the left foot.
5. Using the left leg as a piston, press off the left foot, lifting both legs into the air. As you lift up, bend the right knee to propel that leg overhead.
6. At this point, you can easily (maybe not so easily?) leverage your way into a headstand. Use the core to bring both legs strongly and actively overhead.
This I practiced against a wall endlessly and something began to happen. As I used my legs like pistons it became easier to find my way up without the wall. I used to plant all ten toes against the wall and very trepidatiously bring one leg and then the other away. Then I’d be able to bring my legs up without the wall at all. Finally over a year after my training, I was in a headstand. No wall, no support, maybe a little bit of fear. But mostly, excitement.
“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”