The headstand lifts your spirits wonderfully. If something is drawing you down, turn upside down, and voila-the downward flow is upended into your head.
-H. David Coulter
Headstand – King of Asana
There are many reasons to do headstands, but for me it’s been simple: Headstand has always been my favourite yoga asana. At first this came from a point of vanity, my ego competing with the other students in the class, but now it’s become something much more personal and internal.
When I started taking regular yoga classes it seemed like there was no asana that I could do that looked anything like the other students in the class, let alone the teacher. This was a source of embarrassment and frustration for me as I’ve always liked to “do things well”. However, when it came to learning to do a headstand, I found it much easier than the others in the class did. One class, a few attempts at home and I had it (or at least, some semblance of it, which was good enough for me at the time). My next yoga class I was delighted because I finally felt I was “good enough” to be a part of the class. I looked forward every week to that one part of the class that made me just as good, or even “better than”, the other students.
Nowadays, I’ve accepted that I’m usually not the most flexible person in the room and that I will need to adapt several asanas within a class. I no longer compare myself to others in the class (mostly – hey! I’m human!) and this has brought a greater appreciation of Sirsasana (headstand) because instead of being in the pose thinking about how I compare to others around me, now I can simply be in the pose and that’s the point where we find our freedom, our centre, ourselves…peace.
Through this sense of peace I’ve realised the folly of comparing myself, feeling unworthy and indeed feeling worthy in comparison to other yoga practitioners. I am who I am and I try what I try. Sometimes I do well, sometimes not so much, but it gives me something to work on and towards, and this rings true for every other individual on the planet.
I have to say I find it interesting that it’s easier for me to turn my world upside-down than it is to surrender into a forward bend. This is part of my ongoing personal development work, investigating why I have issue with certain situations in yoga and in life. Dodgy spine issues aside, I know there’s an emotional element and yoga has been my greatest asset in my personal development journey to date and is a tool I will continue to use throughout my life.
I’ll keep you posted on how I progress with releasing into a forward bend, but if you have trouble with headstand I have some simple advice: Don’t rush it, you’re literally turning your world upside-down; give your mind time to adjust before you ask your body to adjust, and perhaps most importantly: don’t compare yourself or your practice (or indeed your life) to others. We are all on our own path and at different stages of the journey. Enjoy it here and now.
It seems that’s some good advice for releasing into a forward bend as well… let’s see if I can take my own advice! 😉