Headstand – Sirsasana

Many people find that the Sirsasana posture helps relieve stress. As you focus your mind and body, controlling your breathing to be able to maintain this pose, you’ll be setting your daily cares aside. The increased blood supply to your brain can help clear your mind so you see things with increased clarity.

If you want to learn to headstand, working with a really experienced yoga teacher like Shaz (pictured above) is the safest and best approach. A good teacher knows when you have enough core and upper body strength to maintain the pose, will teach you safe progressions to help you gain sufficient strength, and can help you find alternative techniques, if necessary.

You may expect the arms to take a lot of the strain and pressure in this pose but experienced yoga practitioners load the head and neck with roughly 40-48% of their body weight when performing a headstand.

It helps to think of the pose as three distinct movement phases. The neck or cervical vertebrae is at its most vulnerable while you lift your legs into the posture. Technique is extremely important at this point: the safest way to master this balancing act is to use your core muscles to lift both legs in a slow and controlled manner. When exiting the posture, take care to use the same type of slow and controlled movement.

You’ll certainly feel a great sense of achievement when you can stay stable and secure in this pose and you will certainly see the world from a different angle!

Sirsasana isn’t the type of posture we recommend doing at home, unless you are already adept at it. Quite apart from the potential strain on the body, spare a thought for your ornaments and furniture! If you live in the Cheadle area and want to learn yoga with us, why not visit our studio? Check out our full timetable here.

As we always say, please consult your health care professional before starting any new type of exercise.

Cabernet and Chakras

The fantastic picture above is of Sharon, a lady I met recently, whose sense of humour and enthusiasm was infectious. One of the most amazing things about the yoga community is that you get to meet some inspirational characters on the journey who invest so much time and energy into yoga for lots of different reasons. Most people I meet want to share their passion for yoga with others so that they too can gain the same mental, spiritual and physical benefits.

I’ve always struggled with the meditation side of our practice so it’s something I’ve tended to avoid where possible. That ability to switch off and empty my mind has eluded me – however much I try, thoughts interrupt my concentration and my mind goes into overdrive.

I was extremely lucky to experience a guided meditation based on the Chakras led by Sharon, who is also a Reiki Master, that just blew my mind. For the first time, I experienced true, deep relaxation. Afterwards, I felt energised and completely centred – it was the highlight of my day.

My experience inspired me to go home and read more about the Chakras, which are thought to be energy centres. Translated literally from Sanskrit, Chakras mean spinning wheels. Chakras cannot be seen or touched and are located where nerves, arteries and veins interlace. Perhaps because they are intangible they are the domain of mysticism and spirituality.

Sharon is based near Stoke and I’ll certainly be making the effort to go again soon. Quite apart from anything else, I need to know her technique for making sure that no wine was spilt during her celebrations!

Seriously, if you’ve never experienced a yoga class, you might find it not just life enhancing, but life changing. And if, like me, you love yoga but the benefits of a fully relaxed meditation have so far eluded you, keep exploring.