I got it! I finally understand! I can balance! Etc etc etc. After 18 months of fairly intensive practice (at least a few times a week if not twice a day) I can now balance in a headstand. I say balance, the wall is still my constant companion if I want to straighten my legs but I can come up and down from the balance on my own.
The actual eureka moment came a few weeks ago. I realised that I could begin to lift my legs and find the balance after a run but at no other time. I couldn’t work out why this is the case for a while, was it fearlessness after a run? Open hips? Sweat? Turns out it was none of those things: it was my shoulders. I stretch my shoulders after a run and so my shoulders have a greater flexibility thus enabling me to balance on the crown of my head unimpeded by gunky stiff shoulders.
So ever since then I’ve been regularly hanging out in this fantastic external shoulder rotation stretch I got from my Jill Miller Shoulder Shape-Up dvd. You hold a block lengthways between your hands and bend your elbows. Then you put your elbows on a surface round about hip level or higher and drop your head between your arms, in a dolphin like pose. It’s like a dolphin pose without the strength and it’s fantastic. Or dolphin’s fine if I’m feeling hardcore. Then I’m up and balancing on my head and imagining my two legs are one and it’s perfectly normal and natural to balance on your head and not at all scary. Who am I kidding? It still scares me witless!
So there you go, nothing exciting, just tight shoulders. Now this is where the fun begins… actually, you know, holding it.
All this shoulder stretching has had a side effect. Last night I suddenly found myself in this pose Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II being able to rotate my shoulder all the way round to bring my head to my foot (sort of). I was surprised as anyone!