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Problems with Head Stand

Ananda2010-07-04 17:46:53 +0000 #1
Hari Om

I hv been practicing Integral Yoga for five years and I still hv this problems with the Head Stand. I wonder if it brings memories of a past life because the "fright" I feel cannot be normal. If any of you hv tips, adv or comments they will be most welcome.

Love & Light
InnerAthlete2010-07-04 17:51:21 +0000 #2
Hello Ananda.

I see this is your first post. Welcome to the community. I hope you will both take from it and add to it.

Generally speaking, a student with such an issue should ask this directly of their teacher. There are many variables which we, the internet strangers, could not know.

Along that same line, if for some reason you are unable to ask of your teacher then two things would be needed here. The first is an explanation as to why you cannot and the second is a full disclosure of who you are as a person and what your practice is like.

That second part is critical as simply saying "I'm having trouble with headstand" does not tell us how you are doing it, where you are doing it, what your head placement is or the like.

I look forward to more information so we may continue to serve you and your evolution through yoga.
Ananda2010-07-04 18:08:05 +0000 #3
Hari Om InnerAthelete

Thank you for your comments and welcoming words.

Yes I hv discussed this on several occasions with my teacher. I hv no other problems with other asanas. Perhaps you are right and it may hv something to do with my inner self. Her response is to be patient and to practice.

You asked how I do it. I start from the kneeling position, crossed arms taking the right distance and slowly bring my feet towards my chest. The theory is there it is just I am afraid of "going up".

My father was a yogi. His guru was P. Yogananda. I was brought up with my father's beliefs and his yoga practices and meditations. Sadly I only found my path long after my father left his body. Perhaps it was the right time for me, not before.

Thank you for listening.

Love & Light
orchid2010-07-04 18:03:18 +0000 #4
Ananda,

Hi there, I couldn't help but notice that your father's guru was P. Yogananda. I've been studying his work for about a year now and attending group meditations at my local SRF. It's been really rewarding for me!

But - I know - that's not what you want to talk about . You want to talk about the headstand. I'm certainly no instructor - just a fellow yogi, but I can tell you this. It sounds as if you are attempting a slightly more advanced headstand if your arms are indeed crossed in front of you (as if you could grasp your elbows with your hands). I found this type of headstand to be much more difficult because more of your weight is being placed on your head - not your forearms. It's been my experience that you should begin practicing headstands by doing headstand variations that place as much of your weight as possible on your forearms. Gradually, you can work up to headstands where more and more weight is placed on your head, until you can actually reposition your arms while you are inverted! Also, placing more weight on your forearms makes you feel much more secure with being on your head and eventually bringing your feet up.

But anyway, I can tell you the headstand variation I would begin with - it's the one where you create your "base" for the headstand by putting your forearms on the mat, bringing your hands together, and interlacing your fingers. Your forearms essentially create two sides of a triangle. You place the top of your head in the center of the triangle you have created with your forearms. Your instructor should be able to assist you with all aspects of this pose, but make sure he/she pays special attention to the "base" of your headstand. Ask your instructor if you are properly activating your shoulders, upper back, and upper arms and rooting your weight into the mat through your forearms. Ask them to help monitor your movements - making sure that you keep spinal alignment and activate your abdominals throughout the pose.

A few pointers: (1) Make sure you always maintain proper alignment of your head, neck, and back in headstand. The very crown of your head should be on the floor - not your forehead, and not the back of your head. If you feel any tension in your neck, come out of the pose, make sure your crown is planted firmly, and attempt it again.

(2) If you have extra weight on your butt, belly, and thighs, this pose can be more difficult. When you are inverted, you're using your abs , arms, and back to stabilize everything that's in the air. If there's more to stabilize (extra weight), that becomes more difficult.

(3) I think falling might be what concerns you most. I have fallen a few times when I was first learning headstand, and I have never hurt myself. As my instructor said "just tuck and roll." Meaning: If you should fall backward while you are trying to come into the pose (usually caused by not maintaining spinal alignment and sticking your butt out while walking your toes in!), prevent the weight of your body from coming down on your head or neck, by using your forearms to support you until the rest of your body lands on the floor. This should not be too difficult, since your forearms will be supporting most of your weight while you're in the pose anyway. In other words, if you should feel yourself falling, keep your chin tucked under, deflect the weight of your body with your forearms, and simply "roll" away. Of course, you can also have your instructor there to help catch your legs if you fall. Some people believe that doing the pose in front of a wall helps, so that you just fall into the wall, not down onto the floor.

Because this type of pose has been the most difficult for you, I cannot help but think that it will also be the most rewarding when you achieve it. Inversions in general are so interesting and freeing.

I truly hope this helps a little, but I'd like to know what specific aspect of doing the headstand is bothering you. When you're moving into the pose, at what point do you become uncomfortable or fearful? What exactly is your fear - Are you afraid of looking silly if you fall? Are you afraid of getting hurt if you fall? Are you afraid of not being able to get in to the pose at all? Are you just too intimidated by it, because you've been able to do many other poses and this one seems to be off-limits thus far? Are you limiting yourself in this life by events that occured in a past life? I'm sure I don't need to tell you this, but if we remembered all of our problems and limitations from past lives and focused on them (even subconsciously) we wouldn't be able to do much in this life because we'd be too fearful. In any case, regardless of your fear, one thing that will definitely help is having a strong base for your headstand, and one that's appropriate for your level of experience with inversions.
Ananda2010-07-04 18:45:34 +0000 #5
Namaste Orchid

So very grateful for your comments.

It is also rewarding to hear you follow the path of Yogananda. My father was very much involved with SLF.

Your advice has been very useful. I do the head stand from the position youmention i.e. crossed arms, creating triangle, interlacing fingers and positioning top of the head. My weight is not the problem I am a size 6 or 8. I honestly think it hs to do with the fear of falling that is why I relate this to perhaps a past experience. I know that I will achieve this goal when? time will tell. Mainly my concern is the reason behind I hv this fear of falling...

You hv helped me a lot with your words Orchid thank you.

Love & Light
Willem2010-07-04 20:02:47 +0000 #6
You could also use a wall to remove your concerns about falling over. Make a solid triangular base with your fingers interlocked while keeping your these fingers about 2 - 3 inches away from a wall. If you still feel you need more "props", try it in the corner of your room.

Namasté, Willem
Ananda2010-07-04 19:11:35 +0000 #7
Hari Om Willem.

Thank you for your tip. All welcome and I appreciate the bond that links us all.

Love & Light.
InnerAthlete2010-07-04 20:57:46 +0000 #8
I'd like to merely add this...

Different styles of practice have different instructions, alignments, or placements. We, as yogis, whether we are teachers or students, need to exercise great care in making comments that are absolute in nature or lend themselves to absolutes.

What is "correct" for an ashtanga student may not be correct for an Anusara student. What is "correct" for a beginner may absolutely not be correct for an intermediate.
sarahy2010-07-04 19:54:38 +0000 #9
perhaps falling out of headstand will assist you with your fear of falling out of headstand? just as dropping myself on my head the other day assisted me with my drop backs. and yes- it did hurt, but i got up and tried again.

i am not recommending that you purposefully fall out of a headstand, but i'm sure that we have all fallen out of many poses- it is part of the learning process.

sarah
Ananda2010-07-04 21:02:40 +0000 #10
Quote:

Originally Posted by InnerAthlete



I'd like to merely add this...

Different styles of practice have different instructions, alignments, or placements. We, as yogis, whether we are teachers or students, need to exercise great care in making comments that are absolute in nature or lend themselves to absolutes.

What is "correct" for an ashtanga student may not be correct for an Anusara student. What is "correct" for a beginner may absolutely not be correct for an intermediate.

Sorry InnerAthlete but I don't understand your comment on "correct" pls be kind to clarify. I do not think I hv mentioned anything about ashtanga nor Anusara yoga.

Ananda
Ananda2010-07-04 20:06:32 +0000 #11
Hari OM Sarahy

Thank you for your comments. I will persevere. I know I will reach my goal. All positive thoughts from you all, help me to grow.

Love & Light
InnerAthlete2010-07-04 19:16:50 +0000 #12
There is no "correct". That is what I was saying.

I used the two styles of yoga intentionally to illustrate that each may have different "ideas" about Sirsasana but that doesn't make one right and the other wrong.

It was a post in this thread by another member that brought this up for me.

I believe the statement was about placement of the head for this pose. Not all practices use the crown of the head for head placement in this pose.

Is that more clear?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ananda



Sorry InnerAthlete but I don't understand your comment on "correct" pls be kind to clarify. I do not think I hv mentioned anything about ashtanga nor Anusara yoga.

Ananda
siva2010-07-04 22:40:08 +0000 #13
Hello Ananda,

Thank you for your kind welcome. Still having doubts about the headstand?

I see you've rcd some good advice, and some confusion too. To my knowledge, there are no different "styles" of alignment, placement, what have you, right for one and not another. Please. Let's not reinvent it.

If you build the strength properly, you won't fall. Are you doing half-headstand? It is the stepping stone to full headstand. That is, pulling one knee into the chest, then the other and holding it? If not, ask your teacher about it. Not only will you keep the brunt of force on your arms and in your shoulders (as it "should" be), you'll gain proper form and confidence. After practicing 2 to 3 months, the day will come when you naturally follow through to half headstand. You'll then be surprised to find full headstand easier than half. Also, leg lifts and dolphin pushups build the strength in preparation for headstand.

Also, focus on your breathing. Make sure you are exhaling completely before initiating. Pull one knee in, and then inhale right at the moment you leave the floor with the other toe.

Assuming everything else is correct, alignment, placement, strength, form, etc., here comes the warning:

A very common misconception about Headstand is that it’s a stacking of one’s full bodyweight onto the cervical spine. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many people are capable of balancing on their head in this way and except for the most advanced yogis, THIS IS NOT SIRSHASANA! For this reason one should "NEVER" practice Headstand leaning against the wall. Nor should there be any jumping or kicking-up from the floor. This is evidence of one who is not ready. (My apologies to those of you who teach in this way.)

So good luck. Don't rush.

Peace,

Emil
Ananda2010-07-04 21:14:23 +0000 #14
Hari Om Spyrotone

Great advice and very positive indications. Thank you.

Your light comes through.

Om Shanti
Alix2010-07-05 00:00:50 +0000 #15
Ananda, I do not have any particular advice to offer you other than it would perhaps be beneficial to meditate on why you have this fear. That might help you discover the root of your issue.

Spyrotone, forgive me, but I must say your absolutes bother me a bit. To be so adamant about there being only one way to do anything seems a bit egotistical and perhaps even intolerant of others. I am so glad you are here to offer your advice, it may be exactly what Ananda needs. I am hopeful that you will continue to enjoy the site and see how many different ways there are to accomplish any one goal.

Namaste
InnerAthlete2010-07-05 00:15:00 +0000 #16
Quote:

I see you've rcd some good advice, and some confusion too. To my knowledge, there are no different "styles" of alignment, placement, what have you, right for one and not another. Please. Let's not reinvent it.

I gather the gentleman's comment above was directed at my reply.

I may have carelessly assumed that yoga teachers are familiar enough with Bikram Yoga to know it is not Iyengar yoga. It may have been obvious only to me that yin yoga and power vinyasa are not identical. It may have escaped the naked eye that Viniyoga and Ashtanga are not twins. There are, for those willing to look beyond the tip of their dogma, some very radical differences (in asana alone) among just these few "styles" of practice. Who is "right" and why is that important?

I would like to assure you all that I have no intention of reinventing anything.

I was merely sharing what I erroneously presumed to be the obvious.

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