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Finding Balance

There is this magical moment when you do your first pole inversion. For me, after struggling for months to kick my damn feet over my head and just grazing the pole with my toe, that powerful moment of joy and glee that overcame me when my ankle caught, and then my legs, and then gripping the pole with my thighs for dear life, followed by the panic of how do I get down from here without cracking my skull open… it was unlike any other feeling. I felt accomplished? Yep. Relieved? Incredibly. Addicted? Hell yeah.

I don’t remember being this passionate anything in my life. With the exception of my undying devotion to Radiohead, pole is something I love and hate, struggle with and motivate myself, carve out enormous time and resources to improve myself and after several years, haven’t given up on. Now that is commitment (or insanity… meh, whatever).

About two years ago, I joined Instagram and discovered a whole new world of inversions known as rocket yoga. Ok, sure, for many of you, this isn’t news, and there are lots of disciplines focused on going upside down, but rocket yoga was an accessible gateway for my old-ass body to feel I could maybe, possibly, one day do. Start with a headstand, maybe throw a crow pose in there, test the waters and give myself some goals.

One goal I was desperate to get right away– the forearmstand. How hard could it be? It’s like a headstand but on your forearms and your body is sooooo close to the ground, unlike with handstands where you have a lot further to fall.

Boy, was I delusional. That ish is HARD! When I started, I couldn’t support my weight and kept face planting (I learned early on to practice these against the wall on top of a gymnastics mat).

A turning point was taking a workshop from the queen of forearmstands, Irene Pappas (@fitqueenirene). For four sessions over a month, she taught proper technique, strength and form, and helped me gain the confidence I needed to continue practicing. Well, enough confidence to practice on my own without the mat below my face, but keeping the nice, comforting presence of a wall behind me at all times.

In the last year, I have been taking Yoga for Pole Dancers twice a week with the always amazing, crazy bendy and strong, Kellee Charles. We practice inversions in every class. Of course, mine have remained solidly planted against the wall. That is until August, when Kellee officially banned me from the wall.

Banned?! Yup. Bye-bye training wheel (wall). Thank goodness, because flipping over isn’t so bad (finally) and catching and holding balance feels AMAZING!

I am officially onto my newest level of addiction – flowing from pose to pose in forearmstand. It has taken me nearly two years to get to this point, but the process/journey has been well worth it. As an added bonus, my current obsession has had the glorious side effect of improving my pole performance. Gotta love cross-training.

Hi, my name is Daphna, and I am addicted to forearmstands. And handstands. And pole. And pretty much going upside down all the time. Thank you.

Daphna Kalman
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