Read this tip to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Ashtanga Yoga and other Yoga topics.
Most ashtanga yoga classes end with a series of finishing poses, which are designed to help cool the body down after a period of intense physical activity and transition to the final relaxation pose at the end of the class. Headstand and shoulder stand are two inversion poses in this category that are accessible to most yoga practitioners. Both of these poses are meant to be held for at least 10 breaths. If that is too much, hold the poses for as long as you can remain comfortable. You'll get stronger with practice.
Shoulder Stand: Lie on your back with your palms pressing into the floor and firm the muscles in your legs. Flex your feet and start to roll your shoulder blades into your back while lifting your legs, hips and torso. As you lift up, bend your elbows and place your hands in the middle of your back.
You should NOT turn your head to either side while you are holding in a shoulder stand; you can cause serious injury to your neck. Your shoulders should be supporting most of your body weight. If you feel any discomfort in your neck, roll carefully out of the pose.
Headstand: Start by kneeling on your mat with your forearms on the floor and your hands clasped. Your elbows should be about shoulder-width apart. Place the crown of your head between your hands. Start to lift your knees off the floor and pull your navel towards your spine so you can engage the core body muscles to help you lift your legs. To exit a headstand, keep your legs straight and flex your feet, then bend at the waist and lower your feet gently to the floor, then release your head and sit up. If you are new to headstands, or you are still working on your balance, you can do this pose along a wall.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|