Getting Upside Down to See a New Perspective

The thought of going up side down has terrified me for as long as I can remember. I’ve been dancing me whole life and practicing yoga for just over eight years, but no matter how long I’ve been around other people doing headstands, handstands, and a whole slew of inversions, I’ve never been able to do it myself. I tried balancing in handstands against the wall in college a handful of times and after a few epic failures I ultimately decided, inversions just weren’t for me. Whenever I would try I felt unstable, my arms felt weak, and I would get this sick feeling in my stomach like I was totally unsafe. I thought maybe because I have limbs I’m just not meant to do inversions. “I’m just born this way” I told myself. 

This summer when I was living in Chicago, I found a yoga class that changed my life. I started practicing at Tula Yoga in Logan Square with an incredible teacher named Rhiannon Kirby who completely transformed the way I viewed yoga, my body, and my ability to blow my own mind. It may sound dramatic but it’s true. 

I went to her class on a whim and after the first time, I was hooked. She was such an incredible teacher and understood the body so well that I was able to do things I had never done in my life. After eight years of practicing yoga and a lifetime of believing I couldn’t go upside down I did my first headstand ever in her class. 

yoga headstand natalie canizares

I was blown away. 

It might not sound like that big of a deal, but the physical and emotional experience of doing something I never believed I could do was huge, life changing even. 

The first headstand I did in her class didn’t come easily, but it happened. 

As we all brought our mats to the wall, I raised my hand to ask for help. Usually I would opt out and just put my legs up the wall because “I just wasn’t build for headstands” but that day, something was different, I just knew I had to try. 

I trusted her enough as a teacher to know she would have my back, I felt safe pushing my limits with her guidance.

She came over to me and broke it down step by step, explaining how I was going to do it, showing it to me, and then standing next to me as I tried. And wouldn’t you know, I did a headstand! 

It was such a rush.  it was terrifying, it was exciting, it was calming, it was all of those things mixed into one experience and it opened me up to so many new possibilities. 

In that moment I had a breakthrough and I realized (as I have many times) how much power the mind has to either limit us or open us up to endless amounts of amazing possibilities. 

All summer I continued going to Rhiannon’s class and practicing my headstands. Simultaneously this new feeling of possibility was reflecting itself in so many other areas of my life, it was amazing. Because I knew what was possible for myself and in my body I was also able to experience that in my relationships, my business, and in life in general. 

Just a couple of weeks ago, I started yoga teacher training here in Los Angeles, and so far the experience has been nothing short of incredible. 

Now, I’m working on doing handstands. Again, this might seem like no big deal to some people, but to me it’s huge, it’s everything, it’s me pushing my limits and growing in every direction. 

With another absolutely amazing teacher I’m doing something that’s always terrified me and getting more comfortable confronting that on a daily basis. 

Because I trust my teacher I am able to take bigger risks, fail bigger, and that ultimately allows me to succeed in bigger ways. 

Yesterday, I balanced in a handstand without a wall for the first time ever in my entire life. EVER. It was amazing. Similarly to the experience I had with the headstand I felt a multitude of things all at once, but the most prominent feeling was the feeling of true balance. 

I was challenging myself, but I was safe, I was physically exerting myself, but I was still, I was nervous, but I was calm. I was balanced, mind, body, and spirit, in that one moment, and again, it changed my life. 

When I say something changed my life, it means that it shifted my perspective, because whenever my perspective shifts, everything is different. The moment I know how much more is possible my life gets that much more expansive. In that moment yesterday I felt my perspective open up to a completely new place. And a great deal of why this experience was possible was the fact that I had a good, strong teacher helping me break through this wall. 

Having teachers that know how to spot things that are out of alignment and constructively help you change them is EVERYTHING when you want to do something completely new. 

Before this summer I had never had a teacher break a headstand down with me step by step, in a way that made sense for my body, because of that, I thought there was just something wrong with my body and I "just couldn't do inversions". Yesterday when I was able to balance in the handstand, it was because my teacher saw the things I was doing incorrectly with my alignment, pointed them out, and told me how to change them.

A good teacher changes everything.

I share this story because this is the kind of teacher and coach I am always striving to be for my clients, and because we all have beliefs that keep us from reaching our full potential. Even if inversions mean nothing to you, there’s probably something in your life you believe you can’t do because you’re just “not made for it”.

So many of us get trapped in the belief that we're stuck in whatever situation life has given to us, that we're not powerful enough to really change ourselves. In reality, this couldn't be further from the truth.

A lot of women I work with begin our work together believing that they were just born with stubborn problematic bodies, and by the end they’re pleasantly surprised to learn that their bodies are totally capable of feeling and looking amazing. 

Getting upside down has opened me up to so much, and I wish the same for each and everyone of you. Whether it’s working on having a healthy relationship with your body, or being able to do something you always thought you couldn’t I wish you the courage to allow yourself to want it, the ability to find the right person or group to support you, and the perseverance to keep on trying until you blow your own mind.

It’s always inside of you. I love you.