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Old 04-15-2012, 06:17 PM   #1
Newpractice
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Headstand Pros and Cons

After 8 month of practice, mostly Ashtanga, 3 to 4 times a week, with the help of a wonderful teacher, this week I was able to do head stand jumping on the wall and hold it for a couple of seconds without him serving as support.
I'm a 64 years old female of average flexibility, under average cardio and above average core strength. I also do spinning, Tabata and some free weight lifting.
Needless to say I am very happy and look forward to improving this and other asana.
Chatting with a young triathlete in my building (who does not do yoga) and an older fellow from spinning class (no yoga either), both warned me about severe neck pain and /or injuries that could result from this pose.
I know that there is an element of risk here, but is this risk outweighed by the benefits?
I've seen folks do the pose in my classes every time and have not heard of injuries.
Any help or advise will be very much appreciated.
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Old 04-16-2012, 08:05 PM   #2
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Hello

AS long as you interlock your palms and have them as support at the back of your head with your elbows at the side i dont think there can be neckinjuries? Unless you have a very weak neck but then you will feel uncomfortable really quick. Just fold a blanket some times so that you have something soft under your head.

Interlock your palms around your head. Fold your body and You should have your knees inline with your elbows (distance should be left hand touching right elbow and vice versa, then interlock them behind your head.) -Also you should not jump you should get up with your legs and walk closer and closer and then lift your legs slowly with help of your stomachmuscles and go up your last part of legs and foot should point down rest should be stragiht like a pocketknife, when you can keep your balance like this you can do the last part by lifting your legs straight up.

Yoga is always slow and we should not rush. There is nothing wrong to start off with having a wall if we dont trust our balance but it should not be a must later on.


But if you cant do it thats ok too. Its not essential do to headstand you can do shoulderstand instead as well.
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:33 PM   #3
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The risk is outweighed by the benefit when the student is properly taught, thoroughly assessed and appropriately intentioned/acting in the pose.

For Sirsasana (and other poses) there are requisite actions which must be in the body before the student comes up into the pose. A small part of this is whether the student can actually enter the pose. But that is a small part. Ergo not everyone who can fearfully leap up and rest their heels on the wall has the aforementioned actions in them.

The foundation of the pose is not the cranium but rather the outer pinkies to the elbows (which includes the outer wrists and forearms along the way). This foundation has to support the posture AND the shoulders must be kept "in-joint" through the contraction of the serratus anterior. A student who does not know this and/or cannot apply this will not be able to maintain the pose in the safest of ways. And, it is far more likely for that student to bear too much weight on the head, something that is appropriate only for advanced students with many years of alignment-based practice.
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Old 04-16-2012, 11:05 PM   #4
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Thank you Fakeyogis and Gordon.
I talked for a while to my teacher today and he said the same thing you both did about the base. It makes a lot of sense. I have not tried to lift my knees first but will see if I can do that instead of jumping.
Namaste.
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Old 04-17-2012, 03:14 AM   #5
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My teacher told me that he knew someone who had a CVA while during shirshasana. He was a regular practitioner since decades and he used to do shirshasana regularly, but he carried on in his nineties. Unfortunately he had a definitive paralysis of a large part of the body. This exemple illustrates how the non-injury principle of Yoga is most important, one must also be ready to abandon certain habits of practice if needed with time.

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Old 04-18-2012, 03:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InnerAthlete View Post
The foundation of the pose is not the cranium but rather the outer pinkies to the elbows (which includes the outer wrists and forearms along the way).
Gordon,

Yes, but what percentage of weight should be carried on that foundation: 0 to 100%?

New Practice,

You might ask your teacher the same question. If he/she is ok with you kicking up into a supported headstand, then they cannot be trusted to know. The risks of an improper headstand do outweigh the benefits, since the best of them, in your case, can be achieved otherwise, i.e., shoulderstand. Ask about half-headstand as well.

It's not about stacking your weight into your cervical spine. From dolphin position with your head placed on the floor, if you are not able to create and hold space between the floor and top of your head, then that's as far as you go. If you were to do a headstand on a single sheet of newspaper, I should be able to remove it without tearing it.

best to you dear,
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Old 04-18-2012, 03:31 PM   #7
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Old 04-18-2012, 10:16 PM   #8
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Thanks, again for your help. Yes, it makes a lot of sense, my teacher told me to make sure my hands are interlaced, elbows no wider than shoulders, and push down firmly and this does take most of the weight out of the head, I can feel it. He said eventually I could lift my head, which is what Siva is referring to. The paper explanation helped a lot.
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:24 PM   #9
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I am light years away from even attempting this, but wow! at 64! You inspire me Newpractice!
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