proprioception

I have been struggling with Salamba Sirsasana (headstand, variation 1) for a long time, unless I am against a wall.  The issue has always been my neck in Headstand 1. An issue which I don’t have in Tripod headstand. So, I’ve mostly avoided Sirsasana 1. I wasn’t able to get good feedback from others about what was happening with my neck, and I don’t blame anyone for that.  It can be very difficult to fine tune a student’s head placement in headstand. There are general rules, but everyone’s body is different and the tiniest of tweaks can make a world of difference.  It’s been four years since I started practicing headstand; I had avoided it for the first 10 years of my yoga practice, where I generally avoided inversions altogether.  It wasn’t until I committed to a regular home practice that I began to explore inversions and balances, including variations of Sirsasana. In Tripod it’s easier to get the hips over the shoulders.

Today I decided to change my head position, based on the X-rays I saw from my chiropractic appointment 2 weeks ago. If you don’t know, I had X-rays taken and discovered my cervical spine has very little curve. It was nearly straight!

I had been placing the very top of my head on the ground for Sirsasana when what I needed to be doing is to place my head where my hairline is (hair meets my forehead).  I did that today, mostly because I was concentrating on keeping more of a curve in my neck. Guess what happened?  I went right up without an issue and without my neck bothering me!

Proprioception.

Proprioception is “The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself. In humans, these stimuli are detected by nerves within the body itself, as well as by the semicircular canals of the inner ear” (American Heritage Science Dictionary). It is also more simply referred to as “the sensory information that contributes to the sense of position of self and movement” (see reference).

I had been listening to the stimuli within my body, notably the feeling of my neck, and because I couldn’t remedy the awful feeling I was having I avoided the posture (you don’t want to mess with your neck). However seeing a visual of my cervical spine was a huge help; it made me think more about my head placement, despite having made adjustments previously.Taking the shape of my neck into account, minor adjustments from the stimuli in my body followed, and that is when I had success in the pose. This directly relates to effort and ease in physical postures-effort and stability combined with grace and ease. Achieving a posture with these opposing qualities will allow both body and mind to feel centered and light, and that also means that the body is spatially oriented correctly in the posture.


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