5 Ways the Practice of Handstands is like the Practice of Parenting

 Photo credit: David Tufino

Photo credit: David Tufino

Have you ever gone on a journey, with lots of ups and downs, that doesn’t seem to end? I have - and continue to do so each day.  I find handstands similar to parenting - both practices are seemingly simple and straightforward, yet completely elusive at times. The more I practice handstands, the more I experience the parallels to parenting. 

Here are 5 similarities:

1/ It brings out our inner child.

What fun it is to be on your hands and upside down! Can you remember a time when you did handstands & cartwheels in recess or at the park? I tap into these old memories and experience the same happy feelings when I play with my boys at the playground, practice yoga together, or create a workout that will wear them (and me) out!

It can also bring out our inner child’s greatest fear - no, not ghosts underneath the bed, not monsters lurking outside the door. No. It’s losing our own cool and bringing out the inner Toon Tasmanian devil in moments of frustration and lower vibration. I’ve learned to treat handstands and parenting as a practice, a process, and a journey. Here, we can face our fears with courage, do our best, and let go of results. 

2/ We have to show up every day.

It’s all fun and easy when everything is going well, but when it’s not, it becomes more challenging to get up and go. 

We may encounter various forms of obstacles, but we need to be consistent and intelligently modify as we need to (self-care, folks!). 

The human body can be tired, injured, pregnant, or just not feeling it; the parenting can be exhausting, overwhelming, and just not fun at times. 

I found that taking care of our physical and emotional health is required. Let’s do what we can, enlist help when we need it, and take care of our body, so we can take care of those we love most. But let’s keep going. Let’s show up. Every. Single. Day.

“If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.”

 Photo credit: David Tufino

Photo credit: David Tufino

3/ I am in constant search for the balance between being strong and being soft. 

With handstands, power comes from strength and stability in the body as well as the softness, gentleness of moving, especially when correcting yourself. (What a challenge, huh? Parents - we can be so hard on ourselves!)

In parenting, I search for a balance between creating a strong foundation & structure (i.e. rules!) and leaving room for kids to play inside those rules, allowing them to be creative and collaborative, particularly when facing behavioral challenges. I find I have to be strong in my principles but gentle in speech and actions. When it comes discipline, I look for the balance between being a friend and teacher/manager - what is called “authoritative” parenting.  

4/ Both require a shift in perspective. 

Both practices have turned my world upside down and have enabled me to see challenges as opportunities for growth while discovering hidden talents. The demands of both have made me review life and priorities, and have forced me to let go of things that are unrealistic or that no longer have a place in my life. 

5/ The journey of handstands and parenting both require a whole lot of practice, love, and patience.

Sometimes the process can feel like a mystery. And that’s when I remember a quote by Rainer Maria Rilke:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” 

Patience, love, and practice...and all is coming. 

 Photo credit: David Tufino

Photo credit: David Tufino