Shame and vanity hardly ever serve yoga. Except when they do.
The other day I was demonstrating tripod for a friend of mine. We were talking about the transition from crow into tripod headstand (which is not something I can currently do) and I couldn’t express what I meant. So I got down on the floor and got into tripod.
Another friend of mine asked if I could go up from that position into headstand – also not something I’d ever done before. I figured I’d try. But as soon as I was upside down my shirt slid down. Oops! But here comes the trick.
I was worried that my belly would stick out, so I instinctually sucked in, pulling my stomach up and in towards my spine. And what does that do – besides giving the appearance of a flatter belly? Strengthen and engage the muscles for core stabilization.
With a stable core, my legs just floated up. I wasn’t even wobbly. My attempt at hiding flab engaged my core, and my legs just lifted up on their own – stacking on top of my body in perfect balance.
All three of these gorgeous images come from the Lululemon blog post titled 5 Steps to Headstand. They do a great job of breaking down the various stages of headstand.
In yoga school, we learned about the yogic powers. It was maybe the one afternoon lecture where no one fell asleep, and we all sat attention rapt in a circle around our teacher as he told us stories of yogis who could slow their heart rate to almost nothing, who could live without food or water and simply be nourished by prana, who could levitate.
True? Maybe. I’ve been a little cynical.
But I’m even more cynical of the trick shown in this video. I somehow doubt this is how it’s been done for hundreds of years. But even if it is, I don’t know that I mind. If that’s what it takes to ensure the survival of an ancient tradition with real physiological and spiritual benefits, I’ll accept a little slight of hand.
Yesterday I worked as an assistant with my former teacher training program. And in the afternoon, we did a little downdog workshop. I still haven’t quite figured out why, but I always go deeper when I’m in a room with our teacher. My breath is deeper, my focus deeper. My body just opens up.
After working with him for a couple of years, I’m finally convinced he has the thing. You know, that guru gaze thing. That POW energy. I didn’t really believe in it. But even though it was my body in the posture, it was beyond my energy. For whatever reason, his presence helps me key in to my own energy and whooosh.
I’m not saying the guy is magic. I’ve read about yogic powers – regulating internal organ function, levitation, transferring enlightenment through a touch or even a look – and I’m not buying it. Despite my West Coast hippy tendencies, I’m a cynical New Yorker at heart.
That said, there’s no denying I felt it. The channels opening up. The right-alignment rush. It was me, the posture, the energy. Whatever it was, boy, it was good.
And, now, I’m exhausted and uplifted at the same time. I have that fevered soreness and the wealth of benefits from practice. And I want more.