On the joys of handstands: ‘I was walking on my hands to class …’

by DGO Web Administrator

If the test of a city’s quality of life is its library, it’s fair to say that Durango is on the north side of “fair to middlin’.” It’s in the lobby of the Durango Public Library that I overhear Isaac Segura tutoring a high school student in mathematics. Isaac has a shock of coal black hair, and punctuates each of his sentences with short, stilted laughter. A chuckle is a period, a guffaw is an exclamation point, and so on. Though we start talking about how he got into tutoring, the conversation takes an unexpected turn when Isaac tells me how he unwinds after a long day. I tell his story here, via Q&A.

What do you do to recharge after a long day of tutoring?I like to go run after I teach, or just do something physical. Actually – this sounds a little weird – handstands. They give you a change in your blood flow, a change in your lymph flow; it’s going to get more blood to your brain. I always feel more outgoing after I do a handstand, too. Sometimes, if I feel nervous about a social event, I’ll do a handstand before going. I just got done being sick, so maybe this is just my own hoax medicine, but I attribute handstands to most of the health that I have as an individual, spending so much time upside down. If I could sleep upside down, I probably would.

What made you start doing handstands to recharge?I think the joy of handstands came when I was teaching gymnastics to little kids. We would do a lot of handstands in that class.

Were you a gymnast as a kid?No. [laughs] There used to be an open gym at the old Mason Center and for a long time – this was like five years ago – I was going twice a week. Because I was going regularly and getting better at the basic acrobatics, and because I’m strong and flexible, they asked me if I wanted to maybe teach little kids. So I signed up for that. The hardest part was that I had to work for a long time to touch my toes. I didn’t want to say to the kids, “OK, time to touch your toes!” and be up there grunting to myself.

So handstands are a regular thing for you?There hasn’t been a day in the last few weeks where I haven’t done at least one handstand. I try to do them pretty regularly. Actually, I used to have a handstand friend who I saw this weekend, randomly. We had a class together at the Fort – specifically the Engineers Without Borders class, which was a really boring class – and we would take a break mid-class and go do handstands together. I check in with her every once in a while, “Are you still doing handstands?” When I saw her this weekend, she said that it had been two weeks since she had. I was very disappointed in her. [laughs]

The Fort is a bit of a weird place and all, but that had to elicit some stares, right?They’d kind of chuckle, but there were no remarks or anything like that. I never really felt the need to explain myself, either.

Have you ever had any handstand mishaps?This was in high school. I somehow managed to – well, OK, I was walking on my hands to class [laughs] and I fell, but such that my body made this inverted U-shape. My legs were arched back and I was, like, stuck in what felt like a really narrow doorway in this U-shape. My legs were back behind my head and my chest was up against the other side of the doorjamb and I remember a friend of mine – who’s still a friend, she lives here in town – just staring at me with her head sort of cocked to one side in amazement like, “How did you do that?” I still think about that sometimes. Like, how does a person find themselves in that position?! So ridiculous. I haven’t had an epic fail like that since, but those are the kinds of things that only seniors in high school do.

Cyle Talley tried a handstand. He’s pleased to report that he didn’t fall, and that Isaac may be onto something. Email him at [email protected] if you’re so inclined.

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