Fear of Falling – Shirshasana Practice (Head Stand)

I always thought that flexibility, balance and strength were the key elements for a good yoga practice and any time I wasn’t able to do a posture I always blamed a lack of one of these elements. When I first started yoga, to me it was a physical workout, a good way to move my body and eventually increasing flexibility and gaining more strength. It was working just fine for me, especially because it was the first time that I was passionate about a sport. All my life I’ve been trying different sports but sooner or later I got bored and quit because I was disappointed with myself. That’s why being passionate about some challenging exercise was a first for me.

Back then I made a very common mistake, as I looked at the practice short-sightedly. I was focusing on the physical performance and I got stuck with my own limits. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to improve for months and months and why I was so scared of challenging postures, telling myself I wasn’t good enough to do them.

The best example is my journey towards the headstand. I spent months and months doing the head stand next to the wall or with my teacher’s help. It was an awful sensation, without the wall or someone standing next to me I was paralyzed and my feet suddenly became so heavy that I couldn’t lift them one inch off the floor. I went to many workshops and I read about lots of techniques and different methods to perform the posture without having much luck. For some reason I was terrified, my toes were strongly stuck to the floor and there was no way for me to lift them off the mat.

One of my teachers told me that, as adults, we can be scared of simple things that we used to do as kids, simply because we heard too many times our parents’ warnings such as “be careful! You’re going to hurt yourself!” or “You’re going to fall and break some bones”. Funny enough I never fell or badly injured myself, so I was basically scared of something I had never experienced.

To get over my fear of falling from a head stand I was told to do some front flips and surprisingly I realized that I wasn’t able to do such a simple thing anymore. It was pure craziness! I remember myself doing front flips over and over rolling everywhere when I was little, and now I was so terrified without even knowing what I was scared of!

One day, after a yoga practice I was hanging out at the gym with a lovely friend of mine, and I finally shared this fear with her. She was so shocked, I could do lots of balances and more challenging things than a front flip and I couldn’t get around something so easy that children do all the time. So she literary kicked my bum to push me into a front flip, I rolled and it was fun!

From that moment I approached the pose in a different way, I’ve started to tell myself “how about not being afraid anymore?” finding that quiet mind and inner peace that changed the way I was looking at my practice.

I’ve learned something very important for my practice and my life: if you are not welcoming into your life a quiet mind you’ll always struggle because you’ll be focusing on negative things, like the reason why you can’t do certain things or be a certain person. The trick is to let go of those negative feelings and thoughts and welcoming self-love listening to your body, welcoming the good in your life and the magic will happen, the practice will advance and your life will be enlightened.

Headstand practice:

  1. From a table top position grab your elbows with your hands and place your arms on the floor.
  2. Without moving your elbows from the floor, open your arms making a triangle shape and interlace your fingers making a scoop with your hands.
  3. Place the back of your head in your hands and the top/forehead on the floor.
  4. Send your hips up to the sky like in downward facing dog, push the floor away using your shoulders and walk your feet towards you.
  5. When you can’t walk anymore come on your tiptoes and gently start to shift your body weight forward.
  6. If you feel comfortable bend one knee into your chest and take the heel close to your bum, always playing gently shifting weight forward.
  7. WITHOUT jumping or kicking start to take the other foot into your bum and… you already are in headstand!! I’m sure your core can feel it! 😉
  8. If you want to challenge yourself more, slowly raise your feet up to the sky and continue gently playing with your body weight to keep balance.
  9. Focus on keeping strong legs (flexing your feet) and engaging your core (closing your rib cage). Keep pushing the floor away with using your shoulders as if you wanted to lift your head from the floor and…
  10. Don’t forget to breathe: HAPPY SHIRSHASANA!

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