Headstand pt.4

In this last installment on headstand we discuss the effect of the pose on cranial sutures and the cranial bones, specifically as regards their movement. This information is heavily informed from my study of cranialsacral therapy. If you’re interested in cranialsacral therapy I highly recommend The Heart of Listening by Hugh Milne.

If you ever feel an imbalance in the head or cranial bones while in headstand come out. Better safe than sorry. The pose should feel good, even on your head.

Headstand pt.2

Inversions bathe the endocrine organs (pituitary gland, thyroid and parathyroid) in blood meaning they are allowed to do what they’re supposed to do. Cleansing and repair happen and proper function returns or is maintained. The increased blood flow to the head includes the brain, the part of the body that uses the greatest blood supply. The morning wake up I do with headstands pushes blood up then down my body repeatedly as I shift my space in gravity.

Reading Anatomy of Hatha Yoga I was surprised to find out he listed two different versions of headstand, one at bregma, another at the crown. Exploring the pose over time I became aware that my skull wasn’t completely level and my neck was certainly not in proper alignment. I’d been told that headstand is a bad idea for someone with my specific injury, a whiplash. I wondered why the pose made me feel better and decided to listen to my body as opposed to stop doing a pose I liked.

I realized over time that headstand gave me space to correct cervical spine issues from the top down. By shifting my head slightly in various directions I had resistance to push into the muscles around my neck, connecting into the base of my skull and into my upper back. I could essentially work in three dimensions and now upside down to reverse any structrual torsion or shift that’d taken place over time. Long story short, not only was headstand good but I could work on my long term alignment in some tricky areas.

Headstand pt.1

Years ago I decided after a year or so of yoga practice that I wanted to try doing a headstand. I pulled a pillow into a corner and walked my bottom above my head until I could lift my feet then fell over into the wall. I couldn’t balance and it felt very awkward on my neck. I ceased, deciding I’d try again later.

Months down the road I tried again and something had shifted. I seemed to be able to hold the pose briefly and began working on my balance, then my alignment through my arms and shoulders. The pillow slowly was pulled away from the wall and when I felt more comfortable with my balance the real fun began.

Headstand is like a wake up. As the king of inverstions is allows blood to pool in your head and turns your world upside down. Your heart has to work to push blood up to your feet and when you flip right side up, that’s reversed. Blood flow helps cellular repair and cleansing in your body.

This promotion of vascularity in the head and neck helps keep the thyroid and parathyroid in high functioning order. The hormones released regulate many functions in the body and the increased health of these glands is what makes the long term benefits of inversions, particularly headstand and shoulderstand so profound.

On the Breath pt.3

In yoga classes I regularly remind the students to breathe. I can never remind them enough and yoga is just exercise without the focus on respiration. The breathing will expand your body, open your tissues and allow more space for your self to reside in physical form.

In this video we talk more about the muscles of respiration and particularly what happens in inversions. Being upside down means that your breath changes in some key ways that you can take advantage of to strengthen breathing for when you’re right side up. Typically the breath is 50% inhale and 50% exhale. Use ujjayi to slow the breath down and enjoy the nuances and feeling of air going in and out of your body. Trace the breath from the nose to the lungs and back out again. Get lost in the breath. This feels good.