Saturday, 24 December 2011

Day 84 : INVERTED : Arm variations in Niralumba sirsasana ( headstand without support) subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Inverted sequence

In this subroutine we have four headstand arm variations, the regular sirsasana in Picture 1, arms outstretched (pic 2), arms folded in front of our face (pic 3) and the arms outstretched in front (pic4).

In the previous subroutine we also had the forearm, pincha mayurasana, version.

In the next subroutine there is yet another hand variation where the head and arms form a tripod.


Try all six headstand hand/arm variations individually and decide which two you find most comfortable, more stable.

Try switching between the two, when that is comfortable try switching back and forth between these two most comfortable variations.

Practice switching back and forth in your regular headstand practice.

You may find that although the regular headstand and, perhaps, the tripod variations are the most stable but that this is not necessarily the easiest transition.

Try switching from the regular headstand into each of the hand/arm variations to find which transition is the most comfortable.

Once found, practice this transition regularly becoming more comfortable with the shift in weight as you move first one arm and then the next. The control we develop here can then be applied to the more challenging transitions.

You might find that entering the different headstand variations from vajrasana or downward dog easier than switching hand positions while up in headstand, if so practice each of the headstand variations separately spending time in each until they become stable.

I tended to find the transition from regular headstand to the arms folded in front of the face the most awkward and the entry to the forearm headstand from downward dog was the most challenging, you might be different.

In all the transitions we want to engage the torso, the chest, stretching the front back and sides. Stretch up through the pelvis the legs, feet toes as if reaching up towards the ceiling, we want to create a feeling of lift, of lightness.

Arms outstretched
Ideally we want to have our arms and head in a straight line. the further forward our hands the more stable the position.

Shift your weight slightly to one side pressing down firmly on the right little finger, forearm and elbow, while inhaling stretch your left arm out to the side but slightly forward.

Shift your weight to the left side, the head and left hand, press down through the mat and, on the next inhalation, stretch out the other hand to the side but again a little in front.

Stay for a three breaths then reverse the process bringing first one then the other hand back to support the head.

As you practice this version, work to bring your hands further back until you are comfortable with your hands inline with your head.

The final version is to move both hands at the same time, again begin by moving the hands, on the inhalation, to the sides but a little in front, working, over time to the hands in line with the head ideal.

from downward dog
Again begin practicing with the outstretched arms slightly out of line, forward of your head as it's a more stable position.

The trick is to walk in so that your hips are as far over your shoulders as possible, this will take the most strain away from the neck.

Press firmly into the mat with the hands.

To lower bring the hips as far back as possible so that you can lower slowly and with control, bringing the knees to our chest first and then lowering the feet.

Arms folded
Shift the weight or at least line of balance to the left arm and then thread the right arm in frount of your face. Shift the weight, line of balance, to this arm and then bring the left to join it folding the arms. reverse the process, a subtle shift of weight/balance to one arm while you bring the left hand back to the starting position behind your head and then the other.

from downward dog
With the arms folder in front of your face we need to make even more of an effort to bring out hips over and even beyond our shoulders before bending the knees lifting our and bringing our knees to our chest. 

Lower in the same way as for arms outstretched but shifting the hips even further back over and beyond the shoulders, as far as possible.

Arms outstretched.
We may try this variation with the palms face down at first while we gain control and stability within the posture but ideally the palms will be facing up.

We might get into the position with the palms down and then turn the palms over into the full expression of the vinyasa.

As with all the headstand hand/arm versions above, shift the weight/line of balance slightly to one side as you shift the hand position, here outstretched in front of you. press down through the first palm or back of hand, shift the weight/line of balance slightly and bring the other hand to join it, reversing the process after three breaths.

from downward dog.
We might consider entering the arms outstretched position from tripod headstand, the hands placed on the  mat, palms down at a 45 degree angle to our head.

Walk our feet in to bring our hips over and even beyond our shoulders, bends the knees and bring them to our chest. Unbend the waist taking the fee behind us and then unbend the knee into sirsasana.

Shifting the weight/line of balance move first one hand further forward and then the other.

When we are comfortable entering via tripod try entering the arms outstretched in front variation with the palms down and then finally with the palms up.

Try lowering from this position, first with the palms down but latter with the palms up using the backs of the hands as support.

Lower in the same way as for arms outstretched,shifting the hips even back over and beyond the shoulders, as far as possible.

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