Yoga Nag is back, whether you like it or not. My August break is over. It was lovely. Time slowed down. A bit. I learned a bunch about myself and my practice, blogs to come. In the meantime, with the beginning of September, I am joining a handstand challenge. Two very smart, sweet, and powerful friends have just started a 120 day handstand challenge, and as of today, I am on board. The full details are below. It is a wise and wonderful approach, with background in the martial arts. See what you think. And join us if it resonates with you. The beautiful timing of starting now is that we will enter the new year with the experience and perhaps the results in our pocket.
Do yoga. Today. Everyday.
Peace and pauses,
#practiceeverydamnday #practice #handstand #120daychallenge #nostretchpants @likadc @extendyoga
What is the Ancient Okinawan Handstand Challenge?
Hundreds of years ago, Okinawan martial arts masters created a most unusual training methodology. They started with the notion that performing a complex and challenging exercise (with complete sincerity) a certain number of times per day for a certain number of days will “change your blood.” What is meant by this is as follows: blood is the sacred fluid of life. A complex exercise performed in this manner will change not only the body and mind but will also cause a shift within the functioning of the practitioner’s central nervous system. After trial and error the masters concluded that the optimal formula is to repeat such an exercise three times per day for a period of 120 consecutive days.
Note that it has been explained that the actual number of days required if the exercise were to be performed with perfect sincerity would be 108. In Buddhism and Hinduism this is a sacred number. It is considered to be a “semi-perfect” number. 108 represents 9 dozen. Due to the fact that humans are imperfect and incapable of performing with perfect sincerity the masters demanded 10 dozen days of repetitions to compensate for human imperfection in efforts. Thus, there is in point of fact a method to the madness – a magic to the number if you will.
Rules of the Challenge:
The practitioner is to perform three handstand “sets” each and every day for 120 days. For the sake of balance, a “set” will mean two handstands – one handstand from a standing split with the left leg rising first and a second from a standing split with the right leg rising first. The sets can be done at any time in a 24 hour period. They can be done all at once or one in the morning, one at lunch, one at night – or any which way at all. As long as they are done every 24 hours. In other words, the practitioner is to perform 6 handstands per day (and not more) for 120 consecutive days for a grand total of 720 handstands. If the practitioner fails to perform the three sets on any day of the challenge then he or she must start over from day one. This is critical to the experience. As with all aspects of practice, safety comes first and foremost. For this reason, the handstand challenge is not a “for time” exercise. To do handstands for long periods of time under some of the conditions that might arise during 120 consecutive days could prove dangerous. The student is encouraged during this challenge to work through illness, congestion, headaches, emotional disturbance, etc. To attempt long handstand holds during challenging physical or emotional times could be dangerous. Danger or risk of injury is not part of the program.
This exercise is about transitions into the handstand – not about endurance. The goal is to smoothly transition up into the handstand, get steady and balanced (however long that takes – 2 seconds, 5 seconds, maybe 10) and then come out of it with control. Advanced practitioners can choose other methods of getting up into and out of the handstand. But, let it be clear that this challenge is not about holding the handstand for long periods of time. It is about transitioning into and out of the handstand with grace and ease. Those who need it are encouraged to use a wall to prevent themselves from falling.
PLEASE WARM UP BEFORE ATTEMPTING. A few sun salutations, some shoulder and wrist work, something that you know works for you.
What can the student expect to experience?
At some point during the 120 days a student will experience what it would be like if yoga became equal to their very top priorities in life. This is because the further into the challenge one gets the bigger the stakes become if a day is missed.
Note that a set of two handstands might take only 20 seconds or so. Then a moment of rest and repeat twice. So we might only be talking about two or three minutes of work a day here. But, these few minutes along with the challenging posture that is the handstand will be more than enough to put the experience into a student’s head – that for 120 days, yoga is a number one priority in life. It is a unique experience that is well worth having.
Are you ready to accept the challenge?