I’ve been working fairly intensively on my headstand. For me intensively means I do it at least once every practice when I feel slightly up for it, let’s not go mad here. Also the idea of doing lots of one asanas at the expense of other asanas is just not on! I have to do equal amounts of all the different types of poses. Frequently I’ll lie in savasana and realise that I haven’t done a twist, or an adequate amount of forward bends and it worries me. Is this normal?
Anyway my point is I’ve been working on the headstand. Last week I briefly swore off it forever and ever. I was having a bad day and I decided that I’ll never do it and I’ll never try again either in a pool of tears on my yoga mat. All I needed was the lower lip pout and a stamp of my foot to make my tantrum complete. This swearing off headstand lasted all of 24 hours because I’m a bit of a methodical asana practitioner, my strange mode of thinking seems to be my asana practice is only as strong as its weakest asana. Don’t ask me, I don’t know, I don’t control my thoughts I just say them. Maybe I’ll explore this idea in another post. So headstand is the weakest link at the moment for me, as in I can’t do it!
I’ve learnt more about getting into it recently. There was a very useful post about handstand on yoganatomy which explains the importance of the pelvis in headstand. So once you’re balancing in the little curled up fetal position that is the beginning of a headstand you can either straighten your legs or you can straighten your spine by tilting your pelvis. I’ve been mainly thinking in terms of legs so the past couple of times after reading this article I tried concentrating on my pelvis and spine. It’s magical! The legs just follow, it just unfurls beautifully like a fern frond greeting the sun.
Unfortunately my thinking when practicing headstand is quite short term. I think: hips over spine, legs into chest, hips over spine, legs over chest and if the miraculous balance is achieved I don’t know what to do! I haven’t planned that far! Do I try to establish balancing in this position to familiarise myself with it thus making it easier to recreate next time? Or do I try to straighten my legs/unfurl my spine? Usually I try a bit of both which is fairly successful but then I panic because I could fall over! I could die! I could bang my head and break my neck and I could die! Somewhere along the line I forget the wall is inches away. And no one has died from doing a headstand. Perhaps at this point I should remember that my mum always told me I’d ‘break my neck’ if I so much as dangled upside down over the end of my bed. Thanks mum!
Even worse that me panicking the first time I manage to balance, after I’ve balanced once I cannot do it again! It’s like there’s a quota of balances per practice. Done one? That’s your lot I’m afraid, try next time. My fingertips are sweaty (I’m the most un-sweaty person ever, my fingertips not my palms sweat) I’m jittery and ready for more but I flail and I kick and I gasp until I think “that’s it, I’m done for today.” I seem to lose the presence of mind that allows me to align myself right after one go. My mind goes away, to where? Who knows.
This fear, is it going to get better? I hope so. I did feel something similar in wheel pose for the first year or so I practiced it. Even though I never hurt myself I worried I would and I liked the pose but I panicked everytime it came to do it. I would hate being forced to hold it or repeat it. I’d do it but I didn’t feel comfortable for months. This kinda makes me feel better about the headstand but also it makes me think… a year?!?!