For those of you hoping this is a blog about the series Stranger Things, you are sadly mistaken. Although the program itself is fantastic (for those who have not watched the series yet – sort your lives out!) the content of today’s blog is equally as enjoyable and involving things upside down! In Stranger things The Upside Down is a dimension existing in parallel to the dimension inhabited by humans. The Upside Down contains the same locations and infrastructure, but it is much darker, colder and foggier; it is overgrown with ropy, root-like tendrils and webs of biological matter which cover practically every surface, with spores floating in the air. The Upside Down I speak of is much more welcoming, friendlier, uplifting, exciting but also challenging and sometimes damn right scary! I am talking about the world of handstands!
Last weekend I took part in a “Handstand lab” run by the infamous Dan Morgan, and hosted in the Power and Flow Studio of Limerick City by Sara and Kevin.
Power and Flow is my local yoga studio and I am blessed to have such a nourishing, innovative, inspiring and educational centre literally 350 metres from my flat. I have been attending classes there for the past few years, but only really immersing myself into a diligent yoga practice over the past few months. Sara is an amazing teacher. She is kind, encouraging, inspirational, extremely talented and also very down to earth. She makes sure to push the class but only to their own limits and in a very individual way. Kevin is a trainee yoga teacher, but by the way he conducts his class, you would believe he has been teaching for all his life. His style is exploratory and he is always searching for new techniques and sequences to spice up the class and challenge himself and the students. He loves arm balances and was the first person to get me really excited about going upside down! Fantastic people over all.
Dan Morgan is a super cool guy from Cardiff, Wales. Dan’s journey in yoga began with the combined interests of developing a healthy body, but also a healthy mind. This interest developed from a young age, spanning across a multitude of disciplines including; rock climbing, gymnastics, calisthenics, mixed martial arts, meditation and music. Initially, these activities were practiced individually, but then he found his true passion in the study and practice of Yoga as a lifestyle – both on and off the mat.
The “Handstand lab” consisted of three two-hour workshops. One on Saturday from 6:00pm-8:00pm and concentrated on inversion alignment & strength fundamentals.The other two took place on Sunday. The second commenced at 11:00am-1:00pm and was focused on inversions- flexibility & mobility .The final lab was from 2:00pm-4:00pm and centred on taking flight- learning to float, press, and find more dynamic movement in your Vinyasa.
I had taken part in an arm stand workshop with Kevin earlier this year, but aside from that and having a good head stand foundation, I was basically a newbie in regards to handstands. When I arrived at the first lab, it was apparent I was not alone! Roughly 25 people attended the first class. A mix of males and females, a blend of all ages and yoga experience, and even one person who wasn’t aware that is was a handstand workshop! After a circle of introductions, beginning with Dan and working its way around the room, it was time to begin!
We started with a warm up consisting of some sun salutations orchestrated by Dan. After this gentle introduction, Dan took us through an enjoyable but vigorous and fatiguing routine of exercises used for prepping the body for inversion work. This was the aim for this particular lab and the knowledge and information we received was invaluable. The workshop concluded with some handstand and spotting practice which was extremely enjoyable and had everyone excited about the following day.
Workshop two began the same as workshop one, with a round of introductions as new people has joined the crew since Saturday, followed by some sun salutes. This particular class was fixated on flexibility and mobility, getting your body in the right position for going upside down. Once again Dan’s wealth of proficiency and experience shone brightly, filling everyone with awe but also belief in themselves that inversion was possible. While also a challenging class, there was constant reinforcement, encouragement, progressions and regressions, and of course, constant laughing and fun. After another 2 hours of intensive work, it was other the lighter side of the day, lunch time!
Lunch for the group was provided by The Canteen, an amazing cafe in Limerick serving delicious coffee, scrumptious high quality food and a lovely atmosphere. It seems to be my catch phrase at the moment, but if you have not been there yet, sort your life out 😉 Lunch consisted of a tasty root vegetable curry served with a side salad and brown rice. This was accompanied by coffee, teas and homemade pomegranate lemonade. Delicious. This also gave all the participants some time to side around and chat, get to share stories from each others lives and just chill. A very important part of the yoga community and one of my favourite aspects of it. (see previous blog Easy like a Sunday Morning)
After this well needed rest, and with full bellies it was onto the final workshop – Taking flight. This gave us some precious experience and practice being upside down and combing all we had learned in the previous two classes. Dan also incorporated some animal flow movements which was very entertaining.
Overall the weekend was a massive success. Everyone who attended absolutely loved it and gained huge experience and confidence, not only in going upside down, but also in their own ability to do anything. I eagerly await the next time Dan comes to visit. For now I will continue to proceed into the world of the Upside Down.