August's Pose of the Month - The Transition from Wide Legged Forward Fold to Headstand


This month our focus will be on two poses; Wide Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana) and Tripod Head Stand (Sirsasana II). We will work on each one separately and on the transition from one to the other.


In Wide Legged Forward Fold we will be working on the flexibility of the hamstrings and inner thighs as we work on elongating the torso and getting the head to the floor. This pose prepares you for Head Stand by getting the head lower than the heart and getting you accustomed to having the head on the floor. If you don't do Head Stand this is a good alternative or a preparatory pose.


We will also work on Sirsasana II. This is Tripod Head Stand where the head and hands are on the floor and those three points form the points of an equilateral triangle. Sirsasana II takes more arm and shoulder strength while Sirsasana I takes more shoulder flexibility. Some people prefer one version of Head Stand over another, however, they each have their purposes and functions and it is nice to be well versed in both. Mastering Sirsasana II is important for performing many of the arm balancing postures such as Crow, Galavasana and the Koundinyasana variations.


The alignment of the head, neck and shoulders are important in Head Stand. No matter which Head Stand you are in the part of the head that should be on the floor is the very top of the head. To find this spot, place the heel of your hand on the bridge of your nose and then stretch your fingers up over the top of your head.


The spot where your middle finger touches is the spot that should rest on the floor in Head Stand.

The head and torso should be in a straight line when you are coming into Head Stand so there is no strain on the neck.


The transition from Wide Legged Forward Fold to Head Stand requires a lot of core strength and stability so expect to see some abdominal work and some plank work. If you are not a person who likes working on your core because it just seems hard, let me encourage you to stick with it. There is a big payoff here when you can finally float your feet off the floor and move into Head Stand. It can be an exhilarating and empowering experience.


While we are always looking for the balance of effort and ease in every pose, in the beginning these transitions feel hard and students are tempted to grit their teeth and hold their breath. If you ever find yourself gritting your teeth in a pose it might mean that you are trying too hard and trying to force yourself into the pose. That is a signal to back off, breathe and try again. Wait for the pose to come to you. Holding the breath while in Head Stand is contraindicated because it can build up too much pressure in the head and the eyes in particular.


We will work on the transition to Head Stand in Stages: First, we will practice Dolphin, then Bent knees and finally moving up into full Sirsasana II. We will also work on coming down from Head Stand. Coming down is easier than going up and it is how you learn control.

As always, remember to breathe and honor where you are, have fun and be playful as you experiment with your edges. Develop a curious sense of exploration and see where it takes you.


I look forward to seeing you in class!
Karin



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