by Betsy Kase
When women my age talk about gravity, we aren’t having a scholarly discussion of Newton’s theory. Gravity is unkind to a woman’s body as we age. Things sag.
Many of my private clients are women my age. Some, I started working with 10 or 15 years ago, and we’ve aged together. We’re navigating middle age together. It can be intimidating for women my age to do yoga with 25 year olds. They are too thin, too strong, and to perky! My job when I walk into my clients’ homes is to create a space where they can achieve their goals, whatever they may be. Some are looking for strength and flexibility, some for stress reduction, some from physical recovery of injuries and illnesses. But during this process, all start to understand their bodies, and the life long habits and tendencies.
One major focus I bring to all my teaching, is building upper body strength. Women start with less and tend to loose it much quicker then men, and when menopause hits, things go down hill fast. We spend a lot of time in our sessions doing down dogs, plank pose, and all types of poses on our hands and forearms. Of course, from the start, I have a secret plan. I’m building their strength so that we can eventually work on handstand at the wall. Have you ever seen the face of a 50 year old woman kicking up into a handstand for the first time?! It may be years before we get there, but with proper preparation and dedication, it is possible. To balance in a handstand, is literally flipping your world upside down. It takes strength and focus to lift your body up, resisting the pull of gravity. It is challenging! The feat of kicking up can induce sweat, fear, smiles, tears, or all of the above. When you succeed in kicking up, the task has only just begun. Once you get up there, keeping the connection to your arms, core, pelvis, and legs takes determination. Handstand is a physical manifestation of the confidence and determination they’ve honed in their practice. Pictures are taken for the whole family to see, perhaps even ending up on that year’s holiday card. And yes, these women get bragging rights to tell their friends, partners and kids. But more importantly, when life throws a curve ball, or they think about how the pull of gravity is doing all sorts of strange things to both body and mind, they can look back and remember finding balance even upside down. If you want a new perspective on gravity and aging flip upside down.