We turn out attention to going upside down for the next few weeks – and it’s about time! Paraphrasing my yoga teacher, Barbara Benagh, if you don’t invert, you are just a dilettante…. Inversions have many benefits, including balancing hormones and lowering blood pressure (shoulder stand and head stand), fostering courage (head stand, handstand), and simply being fun (forearm balance)! However, do try them with a well qualified instructor first, so that you avoid injuring yourself.
If you have suffered from neck injuries, disc issues, or have very tight shoulders or extremely high blood pressure or glaucoma, then please seek the help of a teacher experienced in therapeutic yoga before trying shoulder stand, so that you do not aggravate these conditions.
Our sequence towards the shoulder stand main event includes several poses from this quarter’s previous classes, along with a few new ones to try. The key is opening the shoulders and activating the mid-spine region (sound familiar?!), so that the spine can lift up out of the shoulders.
Begin with a forward fold with the arms clasped behind your back.
Move to the floor and an upward facing table top; if that feels fine for your shoulders, you can work on the upward facing plank.
Set up for block under the hips, first just resting in the pose, then wrapping the externally rotating arms around the insides of the ankles (as when we prepared for dhanurasana main event).
Then return to the initial pose, and use the block for a supported shoulder stand pose. This is such a great pose! I usually teach this pose for weeks, if not months, before the full shoulder stand to allow practitioners to experience the benefits of shoulder stand, without the effort of the full pose. This pose also works well for those with any health issues that might make full shoulder stand counter indicated.
For those who wish to and can go further, move to the wall, and set up two blankets with the folded ends neatly stacked. The shoulders will go on the blankets, while the head remains off the blanket. It will probably be best to let a teacher who knows how to use these props show you how to do this the first time.
If you wish to go still further, move back to the middle of the room, arrange your blankets, and move into halasana, or plow pose.
Finally, our main event.
And there you have it! You are officially not dilettantes! 😉
Happy practicing and namaste,
Sylvia (and Baby Omie – thank you, Janet, for the name!)