f'gure 8.5. Stage one of ¡he headstand with the «nees straight. This is a useful starting position for those who have excellent h,P flexibility and lengthy enough hamstrings, but impossible for those who do not.
the situation is only temporaiy. When you finally settle into a relatively stab position in stage two, the lumbar region will be flatter, and depending > your hip flexibility, the thighs will end up at a 45-90° angle from the peh (that is, flexed 90-135°; fig. 8.6b).
Poor hip flexibility is the main obstacle when you are going from sta one to stage two. With the toes barely on the floor and the knees partia extended in stage one, short hamstring muscles keep tension on the peh and keep the back rounded posteriorly, and this prevents you from eas- >• distributing the main bulk of your body weight above the head. The l< s flexible the hips, the more weight you will have to support on the forear s as you lift the feet. If you are quite strong this may not be a problem, 1 it the average student will find it the most serious challenge to learning to ¡0 the headstand in stages.
In stage three you extend the hips, lifting the knees toward the ceil ,g while keeping them flexed. This is easy. As you extend the thighs le weight of the feet and legs shifts to the rear, and the lumbar region art s forward enough to maintain your balance (fig. 8.6c).
Figure 8.6a. Stage one of the headstand with the knees bent, a more realistic starting position for the average student Keep walking your toes forward until you are almost ready to tip over. At this point only a slight nudge would cause you to somersault onto your back.
Figure 8.6b. Stage two of the headstand. This is a difficult stage to remain in for any length of time, because the weight of your lower extremities has to be supported by your deep back muscles.
The fourth and last step is to extend the knees. As you do this, the lumbar region will flatten as necessary to compensate for the fact that the feet and legs are now in line with the torso and thighs. You will gradually shift your weight off the forearms and balance on your head as you develop confidence in the final posture (fig. K.6d).
Summarizing the four stages, first come into the preparatory position and walk forward until you are prepared to lift off without losing your balance; second, lift the feet and extend the back enough to bring the thighs to a 45-90° angle from the pelvis; third, extend the thighs while keeping the knees flexed and notice how this produces a pronounced lumbar arch; fourth, extend the legs while noticing that the lumbar arch decreases, and balance as much of your weight on the head as feels secure.
Figure 8.6c. Stage three of the head-stand with the hips extended is very stable, and you can stay in it as easily
Figure 8.6c. Stage three of the head-stand with the hips extended is very stable, and you can stay in it as easily headstand with the knees extended is a balancing posture with only a little extra weight on the elbows. Shifting more weight to the forearms can stable, and you can stay in it as easily Figure 8.6d. Stage four of the crown as in Ihe headstand itself. Notice, however, that the flexed knee headstand with the knees extended is a
Position drops the feet to the rear, and that keeping your balance will require a more prominent lumbar 'ordosis than stage four. Wearing ankle weights or heavy shoes will make this plain.
balancing posture with only a little extra weight on the elbows. Shifting more weight to the forearms can thrusting the pelvis forward and the feel to the rear, thus increasing the lumbar curve.
be accomplished conveniently only by
Most hatha yoga teachers recommend coming up into the headstand i stages because they know that by doing this students will master each stt ■ in sequence and maintain control throughout the process. But if you ha\ tried this for some time and are frustrated because you aie not makii progress, there is an alternative. Walk the feet forward as much as you ca and then simply lift one foot into the air at a time, coming into stage thr with the hips extended and the knees flexed. From there it is easy to cot into the final posture.
Even if you come up into the headstand one foot at a time you can s) 11 work on coming down in stages. Notice how your weight shifts when y u flex the knees for stage three. Next, as you flex the hips for stage t\ u, notice that your weight shifts forward as the knees come to the front , d that you have to place extra weight on the forearms or lose your balai e. At this point you may drop quickly to the floor. It takes a strong back to stop coming down and keep your balance when the thighs are flexed, it as soon as you are able to go back and forth between stages three and t o, and even more obviously between stages two and one, you will have all le strength you need to come into the headstand using this four ) rt sequence. These efforts are particularly important for the many begini rs who, without some preliminary coaching, will tend to come up tippy all he way, maintaining a shaky balance from beginning to end.
Finally, after you have had a year or two of experience with the hi id-stand, try the four stages of the posture wearing heavy shoes or light ai le weights. This will show you clearly how shifting the pelvis and lo er extremities in stages two, three, and four affects your balance.
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Yoga is extensively know as a form of exercise that stretches and strengthens the body through various poses know as ASANA. For other people yoga is the realization of inner self satisfaction. For other it is a religion that the believe and must follow. Learn more within this guide by downloading today.