Practising inversion

What postures offer preparation for Headstand? John Ogilvie shares his expert advice.

I am currently completing level one yoga teacher training and my practice has increased dramatically over the past eight months. Five months ago, I started noticing my hair falling out on the crown of my head and was diagnosed with alopecia areata. I have withheld from attempting any Headstand practice to avoid rubbing my now bald patch (6 x 10cm) on the floor. Can you suggest an alternative to prepare me for this pose and possibly suggest other postures to help increase blood flow to the crown chakra? I am currently performing Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) regularly, as instructed by my teacher. Melissa, Boyne Island, QLD

Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand) is an inversion that has many of the benefits of Headstand. It brings physical and mental balance, strengthens the wrists, arms and shoulders, and expands the chest to facilitate deep breathing. Ultimately, it helps to create harmony in the body.

The head always remains off the ground in this preparation posture. To enter the pose from Balasana (Child’s Pose), stretch the arms forward, coming onto the hands and knees in a tabletop position. Keep the hands where they are and bend the elbows to the floor. From here, hook the fingers around the elbows, keeping the elbows shoulder-width apart. Keeping the elbows still, bring the hands together and interlock the fingers, pressing the palms together and releasing the little fingers flat onto the floor. While gazing at the thumbs, come onto the pads of the toes. Inhale, then exhaling lift the knees off the floor and straighten your legs. Still looking at the thumbs, inhale and lift the shoulders and chest up. On the exhalation look back towards the legs, keeping the head off the floor and stretching the shoulders up and back towards the legs. To release, come into Child’s Pose.

Less advanced students may move in and out of the pose a few times, releasing to Child’s Pose and relaxing the shoulders each time. If you’re more advanced, hold the pose. As a next, more advanced stage, lift one leg up into the air and hold, then repeat to the other side. A more advanced version of this posture is to take the legs up the wall to hip height and hold.

John Ogilvie, founder and director of Byron Yoga Centre, has been teaching yoga and training yoga teachers for more than 30 years. He holds workshops, trainings and retreats around Australia and internationally. For more information, visit www.byronyoga.com.au

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