Headstand // Sirsasana
SEE LIFE FROM A NEW PERSPECTIVE, IN HEADSTAND POSE
Turning things on their head has never been so much fun - or looked cooler – than when you can confidently bust out a headstand pose (Sirsasana in Sanskrit).
The headstand is often referred to as the 'king' of asanas and for good reason. Ancient Rishis (Hindu sages) would tell you that every minute spent in a headstand, adds a day to your life! I like that ROI!
The thing with headstands is, you can't trip, chocolate chip. You've got to stay cool and gain your confidence and stamina slowly, slowly catchy yoga monkey.
Trying to shortcut the process by kicking your legs up before you've developed the core strength to lift them, for example, can send you toppling into your neighbour, causing a human domino effect in class.
Instead, take it slow and remember that the reason you're being patient is to develop the strength and confidence to eventually stand on your head as if it was as natural as breathing.
Benefits of the headstand pose include: a stronger neck, shoulders and spine, improved circulation, heightened energy levels, a rosier complexion and more confidence in general. This can translate to all areas of your life, helping you to deal with challenges like a cool, cool cucumber. Bring it.
Find your crown
This pose requires you to rest the crown of your head on the mat (not in your hands), so you need to figure out where this is prior to getting down to business. Here's an easy way: Stand up straight and place a relatively light, hardback book or yoga block on your head. The point where it touches, is your crown. Remember this spot.
Now for the fun stuff. Get ready to experience the full yoga-force of the headstand for yourself!
1. To start, bring your mat to the wall. If you're on a hardwood floor you might want to double it over. Put this end next to the wall.
2. Kneeling, with a straight back, hold your elbows.
3. Come down onto the mat so your elbows are in line with your shoulders. Slide your palms out to make a triangle. They should be 5-6 inches from the wall, so readjust if necessary.
4. Now bring your hands together and loosely interlace your fingers, imagining that you're holding a billiard ball between them.
5. Place the crown of your head on the mat between your hands (not in them).
6. Keeping your shoulders above your elbows, straighten your legs and walk your feet in one foot at a time until you sense that your hips are directly above your torso.
7. Now for the fun part. Bend both knees and draw them in to your chest as close as possible (This is Dolphin pose and you may want to hang out here for a little while, perfecting this pose and creating the strength you need for a headstand). Once you're ready to get airborne, exhale and slowly raise both legs overhead, resting both feet against the wall.
8. Once both feet are on the wall, you can experiment, removing one foot from the wall at a time. This allows your neck and shoulders to get used to the feeling of sending more weight down through your crown.
9. Remember, the worst thing that could happen is that you would fall back the way you came, onto your feet.
Sore neck, shoulders or spine?
This can sometimes happen when first get into your headstand groove. We're not used to being upside down, so naturally your neck and shoulder muslces need to be gradually trained.
One common boo-boo is rolling your head too far back, which can leave you feeling constricted in your throat. Similarly, if you roll too far forward towards your forehead, you'll feel pain in the back of your neck. Be present and notice these little signals from your body.
Also, it's super important to rest in child’s pose after practicing a headstand. It gives your spine a chance to release back into its natural curvature and it prevents you from getting dizzy.
When you do return to an upright position and out of the pose, be sure to roll your neck 2-3 times in each direction, to help ease any tension.
Take your time and be patient fellow yogi! Yoga isn't about being the first to the finish line or competing with yourself or anyone else. Find joy in the process and you'll be inverted in no time.