Tumultuous as the surface of the ocean appears, beneath the waves it is calm, opposing currents brushing against one another in a symphony of continuous motion. The tides crawl foward and recede, yet the depths of the sea remain unshaken, miles away from the crashing, foam-crested waves. The practice of yoga asks us to find an aquatic balance between motion and stillness. The surface may quiver and tremble with effort, but inside the mind and body are still, intent only on being. Headstand pose, or Sirsasana, creates one long line of clarity and energy from head to toe, and offers us a chance to flip our perspective for a few breaths. A posture that strengthens the neck, shoulders, and arms, headstand is one of the core poses of ashtanga vinyasa yoga. Steady breath and focus will land you in this challenging posture, and once you arrive, the breath illuminates the deepest corners of the experience.
Let the waves of discomfort, frustration, and fear wash over you, yet remain untouched as the bottom of the sea.
- Downward Facing Dog
- Plank, with shoulders directly over wrists and heels reaching back
- Upward Facing Dog, shoulders remain over wrists and heart opens
- Hips lift back to Downward Facing Dog
- Knees lower to ground under hips
- Forearms lower, grabbing opposite elbows with hands to properly space the elbows for headstand
- Make a fist and look toward hands
- Toes tuck and knees lift, finding shoulders directly over elbows; if this is difficult remain here with head lifted, working the legs toward straight, maybe walking them in slightly towards hands
- Begin to walk your feet towards your hands slowly, until you feel the lower abdomen engage
- Firing up the core, gently bring one knee into chest, and then the other; hover in this egg shape, finding the breath and preparing to extend upwards
- Both feet reach for the sky at once, moving steadily and with mindfulness
- Once the legs are extended and ankles are over hips, hold posture for eight breaths
- Come out of the posture the way you came in, squeezing knees to chest and lowering the toes to the ground
- Find child’s pose for ten breaths and repeat
The experience of headstand is all at once overwhelming and sedative. Breathing deeply into the belly during headstand relieves the pressure of gravity on the organs, creating space for increased digestion. The more frequently you practice this asana, the more ease you will find while inverted, allowing the breath to reach the deepest crevasses of your being. Find stillness in the breath and the body will follow.