7 September 2012

Master of Headstand

Mukta Hasta Sirsasana

I am officially a 'master of headstand' according to Light on Yoga.

Tonight with the luxury of a free evening, I felt like treating myself to something different than Ashtanga, so I opened up Light on Yoga and decided on the week 45-50 sequence. There were a few poses in this sequence that I didn't know by name and had to look up (a couple of the Headstand variations and Anantasana) and a few poses that were very crusty (a couple of the Headstand variations, Kukkutasana and Garbha Pindasana), but apart from that it was a lovely practice, sort of like going to an unfamiliar yoga class with a new teacher and enjoying the novelty of playing with new toys.

The sequence starts with Headstand and lots of variations. Tripod Headstand was no problem, but then came a similar three point variation where the hands are inverted and much closer together, fingertips pointing away from the head (Salamba Sirsasana III) - I felt a bit wobbly going up and down with this one. The third variation, Baddha Hasta Sirsasana, with hands holding elbows felt a lot more stable than the inverted hand one.

Mukta Hasta Sirsasana was next, a variation I'd never tried before - the arms are fully extended, elbows off the floor and the palms upturned. The introduction to this pose said:
'This is the most diffcult variation of Sirsasana to master. When it comes comfortably, one is a perfect master of the head stand. It is comparatively easy to balance in this asana, but it it extremely difficult to go up and come down keeping the legs straight without bending them at the knees.' 

Feeling up to the challenge I followed instructions, engaged my core then carefully raised my legs off the ground and up into the full pose. After 5 breaths I lowered my legs gracefully together, quite surprised that I could do this supposedly 'most difficult variation'!  Next time I'll set the challenge to hold it longer.

Since I was now a 'master of headstand', I skipped the remaining seven headstand variations.
: )

Shoulderstand sequence - I did the full sequence including the Padmasana ones which I hadn't even warmed up for. Evening yoga practice = supple body, so different to my morning body.

Supine poses: Supta Padangusthasana and Anantasana
Anantasana was a pose that I had to look up.  It wasn't difficult and I think it would be a great preparation pose for anyone trying to master Vashisthasana II.

Seated poses:
Paschimottanasana and Parivritta Paschimottanasana
Janu Sirsasana and Parivritta Janu Sirsasana
Akarna Dhanurasana 


Padmasana poses:
Baddha Padmasana and Yoga Mudrasana
Kukkutasana and not Garbha Pindasana - got my arms through my lotus legs but the pressure into my calves was intolerable, it felt like instant bruising.  I stayed with the pain to practice rolling forward and up into the Kukku balance a few times, but didn't quite make it. By that time I had to urgently get my arms out so I didn't attempt Garbha Pindasana.
These two poses used to come easily for me, so I know it just takes some regular practice to acclimatise the body (and mind) to the new sensations.

Goraksasana - attempting to balance in this pose was challenging but great fun.  It requires precision awareness and coordination to get each hand off the floor while adjusting the pelvic tilt to rise into the fully upright position. The mind and body must be working together perfectly.  My new goal is to become a 'master of Goraksasana'.

Backbends: Matsyasana, Supta Virasana, Bhekasana

Seated pose: Baddha Konasana

Twists: Ardha Matsyendrasana (my new favourite twist), Marichyasana C
Malasana and Uttana Padasana

Then for the grande finale: 6 x Urdhva Dhanurasana backbends - a supreme mental challenge because I'd never done that many in a row, 3 is my usual maximum. What a great exercise it was to observe my first reaction:
6??? you must be joking!!!!
I'll never last for that many
After 6 I'd never get to sleep with all that adrenalin pumping through my system
and to then calmly take control, override the baseless arguments. complaints and obstacles, and just do them!
I switched to a steady, balanced mental approach and did each and every one, staying up for 5 breaths each time.

According to Mr Iyengar's week 45-50 sequence, after completing the 6 Urdhva Dhanurasanas, you're supposed to do Savasana. Not sure what was he thinking when he wrote that.
For me, after 6 backbends, both the body and mind need a counterpose to help settle the wildly circulating hormones down.  Sure, Savasana will do this, and in hindsight it would have been interesting to go straight into Savasana and watch the process happening, but tonight I did a long Paschimottanasana before finishing with Savasana.

A playful practice tonight.

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