Do you love doing headstand (sirsasana)? Or, does it strike fear into your heart? Maybe you like the idea of headstand, but only for other people?
Without meaning to ‘big note’ myself, I did a headstand in my first yoga class in 1971. How crazy is that? First of all, what was the teacher thinking in letting me go up into such an advanced pose?! She didn’t know me or my body, but I guess headstand was in her lesson plan. Without knowing any better, I followed her directions.
It was probably a pretty scratchy looking headstand, but the show off in me felt chuffed. What I lacked in awareness, I made up for in panache. Mindfulness was yet to come; actually, I’m still working on that.
The way that I introduce my students to headstand is through a preparatory stage using blocks.
You set up four foam blocks on your mat against the wall, as pictured. If you are tall, you might want to have an extra block at the top of the stack.
Then, take a kneeling position. Interlock your fingers and place your hands between the blocks and right up against the skirting board. Straighten your legs and move your upper back so it touches the top block(s). Press your hands down, stretch your shoulders up and your head will lift off the mat. Presto, no weight on your neck.
(Check out the video of headstand preparation below, as well.)
What if you find that the above preparation is beyond you at the moment. You may lack strength or your neck may be sore?
This chest opener will help release tightness in your upper back. It works on the rhomboids – the muscles that stabilise the shoulder blades. When rhomboids are weak or overly tight they limit movement and contribute to stiffness.
Set up a bolster, a folded blanket and a block as shown. Then, lie on your back with your head on the blanket and with the edges at the top of your shoulders. The block is supporting your upper back with its top edge near the bottom of your neck (C7 vertebra).
At first, the block may feel a trifle hard against your spine, but usually that sensation goes after a minute or so. If any discomfort persists, you can re-place the block so it lies flat or cover it with another blanket. Stay in the pose for up to 8 minutes relaxing your back and gently breathing into your front chest.
My next week’s post will give some more tips on headstand, so stay tuned….