A Headstand a Day
by Kristina S.
I’ve practiced yoga for almost two years now. Hardly a long time in comparison to the well seasoned practitioners but for me, this is the longest relationship I’ve had with an extra curricular activity (which ended up pervading many aspects of my life, in a positive way). Of course time is not an indicator of how much of an ‘expert’ a practitioner is. My first yoga teacher said something like ‘you can practice for eight years and do fancy poses, but if all you keep thinking about lunch each time you’re on the mat, then it’s no good!’ It’s like he read my mind!
There are thousands of poses aka asana out there that I’ve not had the honour to practice. I am naturally pretty laid back so I don’t get giddily impatient about wanting to do everything. A yoga Guru once said ‘Practice, and All is Coming’. No problem. My practice is still bumpy and rough around the edges.
But in the core of my practice there lies a dark secret that is the bane of my existence. And I will tell you what it is. Here goes: I am sh*t scared of headstands!!!!!
When I say sh*t scared, I really do mean it with capital Ss. A tremendous fear. The thought of it brings me trepidation. Excessive paranoia that I might tumble back and break my neck and DIE!!!! Oh, by the way I am exclusively referring to the Supported Headstand, or in Sanskrit, Salamba Sirasana.
Now, even though I may not have the optimum physical strength for the more challenging poses, I have always accepted them with courage. When faced with the headstand however, I become absolutely chicken! Regardless of muscle strength (whatever), the thought of falling backwards absolutely terrifies me! Give me face plants, I will deal with the pain/embarrassment any day. But falling while not being able to see where is the equivalent of being disemboweled by a bunch of hungry zombies!
Where does my irrational fear of falling backwards come from?
A friend once told me that difficulties in certain yoga pose implies that there’s an emotional issue that you haven’t dealt with (or issues that you didn’t even realize existed!). For instance, difficulties in poses that require hip openers might imply that you are suppressing some emotions. Sometimes I hear about some practitioners who started crying after performing certain poses which means they’ve just experienced an emotional release. There are other types of release a practitioner can expect; pent up anger, sadness, etc (sometimes the gastrointestinal release aka GAS happens too and it can happen to anyone)!
Known as the ‘King of Asanas’ the headstand has many health benefits, if practiced correctly. It gives the body a break, reversing the actions blood pressure and helping the blood goes to the brain while giving your heart a rest hence improving blood circulation. And apparently the benefits also go beyond the physical! On further reading I discovered that this pose helps develop the masculine qualities of will power, sharpness of the brain, and clarity of thought. BINGO! Maybe that’s where my problem lies. Maybe I’m too relaxed and somewhat indecisive (a Libran trait? But let’s save star sign talk for another day). Sometimes I lack the conviction and will power to see a task right to the end. Interestingly, I was also going through a phase in my life where I was unsure of my directions (mostly career related).
Coming up to the second year anniversary of my relationship with my yoga practice, I think it is time for me to face my fear of head on (excuse the pun)! I decided that I would do the headstand once a day. Without judgement, without expectations. I’m still a little chicken so I do it close to a wall (but not resting on it, and I hope to move away as I progress, slowly slowly). My crazy mind can rest easy knowing that it’s there to break my fall (if I fall). I’m still a bit wobbly and can’t stay up for long, but at least I can feel that wall of fear chipping away bit by bit. HOORAY!
Thankfully, my practice has given my the privilege of having the insight to recognize and address all the happenings I experience physically and emotionally. It has not only helped me listen to myself, but in many ways it has brought me closer to others. Life is a process which I hope will help me find my own courage. This time I’ll start by proudly standing on my head.