We can analyze the problem of hip flexibility by looking at two extremes, first at how difficult it would be to come up in the headstand if you had no hip flexibility at all. If the thighs and pelvis were in a cast that held them in the same plane so that you could flex only the spine, knees, and ankles, the only way you could get up in a headstand would be to place your head on the floor, bend as much as possible in the vertebral column, and, with a stupendous effort from your ankle and knee extensors, throw yourself up into the air. With enough practice—probably after thumping over onto your back several hundred times—you might be able to do it.
To envision the other extreme, think how easy it would be to come into the headstand if you had i8oc of hip flexibility with the knees extended, and if the length of your combined torso, head, and neck were exactly equal to the lengths of your thighs, legs, and feet. You could plant your head on the floor and walk yourself into a folded head-foot stand with your toes on the floor near the forehead. Then you would only have to tiptoe enough further forward to balance on your head and come up into stages two, three, and four of the headstand—all with minimal abdominal and back strength, and with minimal help from the upper extremities.
Between the two extremes your work is cut out for you. Any posture that develops strength in the abdomen, back, and upper extremities, and any posture that improves hip flexibility will bring you closer to a successful headstand. Dozens of postures are helpful, some for strength, some for flexibility. Backbending and prone boats, forward bending and sitting boats, standing twists and bends, standing triangles and lunges, leglifting, hip-opening exercises, and sitting spinal twists are all helpful. The peacock and wheel will do wonders. Certain shoulder-stand variations (chapter 9) will also be helpful, such as coming slowly into and out of the bridge from the shoulderstand, and coming slowly into and out of the plow
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