Change can come at any point in your life, during your best (or even worst) days. Most of the time, we resent change and wish we weren’t going through it. Sometimes, we need change – a change of weather, atmosphere, country, fashion, partner. It is in our nature to complain – if not all the time, then at least most of the time.
Spoiler alert: I will not complain in this blog post! I will also try my very best to never ever complain on my blog. As a matter of fact, I think I will add that on to my yogic list of things to do/not do. I will tone down my complaining habits. There. Now that it’s “in writing”… So, we embrace the situation, make the best out of every moment and, in the words of a former colleague, “figure it out”.
I’m going through some changes at the moment that I have been a little preoccupied with, mostly mentally. To make the best out of the situation I am in right now, I am blessed with the opportunity to teach more yoga classes and work on my head stand. In the spirit of [not] complaining, I’m just going to mention in passing that I might never be able to get into a head stand on my own. Now that we got THAT off my chest, let’s break it down. When being taught how to get into a head stand, the first point everyone focuses on is: it’s all about the core. I never quite understood exactly what that meant until last this week, when my abs were sore after practicing getting into the pose.
A head stand is one of those poses where you either get into it easily and probably from the first time, or have to practice for weeks (maybe months and years) until you finally get your legs up in the air and hold for a couple of minutes.I am one of those people who had to practice keeping my fingers clasped together while tucking my legs in to my chest. Next step is maintaining a strong and stable foundation. When you clasp your hands together, tuck your right pinky finger in to form a stable base with your hands. Then, take a look at your elbows and be conscious of how far apart they are from each other. Essentially, your elbows should be about shoulder-width apart. Now that you have your triangular foundation, place the crown of your head on the mat and cup the back of your head with your hands. Once you begin to come onto your toes, make sure that you do not collapse into your shoulders. If you manage to be aware of the difference between collapsing and not collapsing into your shoulders, you’ll be able to understand how most of your weight is shifted on to your arms – which is what helps you lift into a head stand.
For some people (like me) who might have long necks and slender neck muscles, and are not extremely open in the shoulders, you might need props to practice getting into a head stand. Bring two towels, double-fold each towel and place them directly under your arms (so, form 2 sides of a triangle with the towels). This way, you get to work on strengthening your neck muscles (thanks Peewee!). Come onto your toes and start walking your feet in as close as possible to your chest. It’s best to practice against a wall (close enough that you’ll only touch the wall IF you fall back) for the first couple of times. Once your bum is slightly over your head (and leaning towards the wall a little bit), begin to tuck one foot at a time until all your weight is shifted mostly onto your forearms and until you’re slightly using your shoulder and neck muscles to support you. As you begin to straighten your legs in the air, you torso is shifted back to center and your feet, legs, upper body and head are in perfect alignment.
It sounds pretty simple. The worst part is, when people show you how to get into it, they make it seem SO simple! Yeah.. I’m still struggling. Now that module 2 has come to an end and we meet again in 1 month, I have all the time in the world to practice my head stand. For this week, yours truly has managed to master the tuck! (for 2 breaths…)
Don’t forget to come into Balasana (child’s pose) and do a couple of neck releases (cat and cow poses) once you come down from your head stand!