Yoga Anatomy & Headstands

I am used to pushing my body to its limits. Perhaps it is because I am young and have never had a sports related injury. The closest I have ever come to getting injured is when I had a swollen ankle. I am used to jumping into difficult yoga poses without any warm-ups.

Coming for this yoga teacher training course has made me so much more aware of my body and its muscles. I have learnt how to structure a proper yoga class with warm up as well as how to focus on different parts of the body to build up to a peak pose.

Let’s take sirsasana, the headstand, as an example. People who are relatively new to yoga may think it is okay to just get into it since all you need to do is kick your legs up so that you are upside down but… no, that is actually quite dangerous. If you are unable to control your inversions, you may fall over and injure your back or neck.

How do you then work up to getting a controlled headstand? Let me now explain it to you with my newfound knowledge of anatomy. 😛

The triceps, shoulders, abs, hamstrings, butt and even feet need to be warmed up. The triceps and shoulders need to be supporting most of our weight in headstand, not the head itself even though it is called headstand. The upward rotation of the scapular is important in this. The abs, hamstrings and butt need to be engaged for us to maintain neutral hip extension and keep our body in one straight line, preventing us from falling over. As for the feet, I find that it helps with my balance if I were to dorsiflex my feet and spread my toes out to engage every single toe.

Hence, if I wanted to do a headstand in my yoga class, I would make sure I have exercises to warm up and strengthen all the areas mentioned above so that it would be easier for everyone to attempt headstand, with the correct engagement of muscles.

Knowing yoga anatomy has helped me a lot in my physical yoga practice such as learning how to bend even deeper in forward folds using my hip flexors. I am thankful to have gotten to learn this in my training and I will continue studying hard to make sure I have proper understanding of the human body so that I can better plan classes and help to push my students to their full potential and even help those with injuries! 🙂

Cheryl
200hours YTT (Jan 2015 Weekday)