The days are growing colder and the nights longer, signaling a time to pause, go inside and look back upon the year. This act of conscious reflection of the year behind allows you to see where you can make space in the new one.
This is the time of year for inversions. Not only do they bring increased prana and blood flow to your crown and heart chakras, but inversions also encourage new perspective so you can move ahead with a new sense of yourself.
This month, we’re focusing on the preparation for sirsasana, or headstand, as an inversion to bring in new perspective. Even though you won’t go fully upside down (yet), sirsasana prep trains you to reach the full pose by building internal strength and a stronger connection between your upper and lower body. As you move in and out of this inversion-to-be, you will gain new perspective on how your body can ease – not jerk – into this pose. As you gain this new perspective on your body, you may find it easier to do the same as you look at the past year of the life path you have just walked.
Here at Hale Pule, we talk about asana with three designations: essence, anchor and strength. This is a simple tool to remember the intention of the pose, where your body is grounded and the muscles you engage for proper alignment. These components will support optimal energy flow and a sustainable practice throughout life.
Sirsasana prep from the ground up
1. Start on your elbows and knees with your toes tucked under. Your knees should align directly under your hips, elbows under your shoulders. Grasp the outside of your upper arms with your hands. Maintain this distance with your elbows throughout the pose.
2. Keeping your elbows in this position, lace your fingers together, tucking your bottom pinky finger to create a flat surface. Keep your wrists straight so there is a space between your palms and point the tips of your thumbs up, touching the pads together.
3. Raise your knees off the ground by lifting your sit bones up and back, but keep your knees half bent for the duration of the pose, thighs active. At the same time, press into your forearms and hands, allowing your head to move between your upper arms. Gaze at the tip of your nose or between your big toes and breathe five breaths.
4. Shift your weight forward so your shoulders are over your elbows (be sure to lift up and out of your shoulder joints, spreading the upper back) and the tip of your nose is over your thumbs. Continue to extend your sit bones up and back with bent knees. Gaze at your thumbs and feel the alignment of your upper body and the lightness of your lower body that will one day support full sirsasana. Breathe five breaths here. Repeat step 3 and 4 twice more for a total of three rounds.
5. When you’ve completed three rounds, lower into balasana, child’s pose, by bringing your knees to the floor, hip width distance apart. Breathe 3 to 5 breaths before continuing your practice.
Common trouble spots
Elbows wider than shoulder distance. Keep your elbows in the starting position to avoid straining your shoulder joints.
Wrists bent. When your palms are either pressing together or are turned out too far, you lose the critical anchor point of the sides of your hands. Keep your wrists straight to get the most connection to the floor.
Knees straight. Keep your knees half bent throughout the pose. This will help you engage your pelvic floor (which is what will ultimately lift you up) and cultivate connection between your upper and lower body.
Rounded spine. Keep your spine and neck extended in one line in step 3. Avoid kinking your neck to prevent injury.