The Power of InversionsPosted: Updated:
Turn yourself upside down and see the world from a new perspective. Sirsasana, or headstand is considered by the ancients to be the king of all asanas. A posture that is supported by the arms by balancing on the head, rejuvenates the entire circulatory system. Head stand replenish proper blood flow to the head the heart and specifically helps support the pituitary and pineal glands; which our health and vitality are dependent upon. We can practice many postures that put the head below the heart, yet this posture, is one that brings the entire system into balance and even has the power to help correct issues like constipation, halitosis (bad breath) and can dramatically improve clarity of thinking and memory. One of the major road blocks for people new to this posture is simply the fear factor. It is important to have proper instruction on alignment and the assistance of a trained professional if attempting this posture for the first time. If you are attempting this posture for the first time, I recommend using a wall. The importance of this is to support ease in mind, allowing one to stay calm and focused. If a posture is attempted and the breath is at jeopardy, I recommend staying in the prep for the posture until the breath is even, this will keep you at ease and calm. As one gets more steady in the alignment and transition to bringing the legs up the wall, this will allow one the confidence to begin attempting the posture in the middle of the room. One of the added challenges in this posture is preparing the base, which in this particular version happens to be with the forearms on the floor. The hands come together to form a basket where the head is positioned. This base allows one to become strong in the foundation of the arms and can be attempted even by a beginner with ease. Once one is comfortable with the foundation, there is much to explore in kicking up. In today's segment, I focus on the transition to lifting the legs with awareness. Though this is a posture that may induce falling at some point, one is can prepare to relax into the fall and learn the art of surrender. This means, one must be willing to face fear head on! What a powerful way to practice faith and resilience at the same time. We all fall at some point. As babies, we fell a lot learning how to walk. It's important to remind ourselves that we can be like kids forever, learning new ways of being, doing and seeing. This is the art of yoga, learning how to see things from a clear lens, unhindered by fear, yet discerning in our attempts. Sometimes it's important to take a leap of faith other times it's just as important to check in and ask, is the foundation ready for my next leap. If one is struggling in the preparation, I would suggest staying there for a bit, connecting to the breath and once more ease is felt, take the next step. Sometimes the guidance and assistance of a teacher is all one really needs to feel ready to take that next step. I encourage you to go to class, find your teacher and develop a regular practice with a trained professional; someone you can trust to support you along the way.
As one continues to practice and one is likely to fall at some point, one learns the art of relaxing into the fall, versus gripping with force. This can be a very enlightening experience to notice. Where do my thoughts carry me when I consider that I may fall? If I stay in the moment, with a willingness to explore and playfully engage my listening, I will discover that there really isn't much to fear. So you fell, so what? Take a deep breath and go slow. If a posture does raise a bit of fear within, it is important to ask myself:
A. Am I physically ready to attempt this posture. Be honest with yourself.
B. Am I taking my time, going slowly enough to set a solid foundation?
C. Am I focused. Breath connection, the gaze of the eyes and the lift from the internal locks, called bhundas, are keys to proper alignment. Beyond the form itself, these three components bring a deeper connection to focus, strength, stability and balance.
One very important note about this posture: if you are suffering from high or low blood pressure, it is best not to perform this pose or any other asana(pose) where the head is below the heart for longer than a few breaths. Consult your physician if you have health risks or injuries and always listen to your body and it's cues to back off or slow down when necessary. With diligence, resilience, and a bit of stamina, one can achieve this posture and hold it anywhere from 1 to 15 minutes. The importance of staying in alignment with the senses, is key here, for we must allow the muscles in the arms, shoulders, and neck to attain enough strength as to not put so much weight on the head. As one gets stronger, this posture will be your afternoon refreshment and provide you with the energy to keep going during the peak of the day. Head stand is a great way to start the day! You'll be feeling lighter and looking younger in no time. I swear by this posture as a natural face lift and most importantly a way to clear the head of any over activity in the mind. If your feeling restless, just take a "time out" and practice headstand. Get ready to turn back the clock and feel fantastic! What more could you want from a pose?