Prepping before you leap

Today I surprised myself when we were practicing inversions at Thrive Yoga. We were doing supported headstand (Salamba Sirsasana), which has always been problematic for me because when resting on my forearms, my shoulders tended to tense up and make it extremely difficult to sustain my torso and legs above me. I usually used the garden-variety headstand with my hands on the ground and using my elbows as a platform for lifting my legs up. Whenever the class was practicing an inversion, I would opt for a less demanding modification to work on strength in my shoulders.

Today, as we prepped by practicing dolphin pose, I notice that when I raised a leg it came up higher than I had perceived before. I took a couple of trial jumps and I knew that I was close to getting up all the way. I switched to the wall and tried the supported headstand with my forearms for support. I was able to easily bring both legs smoothly over my head — without really kicking up, which is really a cheat because you have little or no control over the movement. It’s like throwing mud against the wall. This time, I noticed that my weight was firmly over my arms and no much pressure was coming down on my neck and head. It would be a simple move to lift up to Feathered Peacock Pose (Pincha Mayurasana). I am still a long way from having the balance and core strength to do without the wall, but I passed another threshold.

The moral of this story is that if you do the prep work enough, you will eventually reach a point when you’re within reach of the full pose you’re aiming for.