First and foremost: my feet. LOL. I mean, I have larger feet, but this camera angle is just not doing me any sort of favors. While making this pictorial I was like ohmygod are my feet as long as my shins?? They aren’t. I promise. Anyway…
You guys may remember that my New Year’s resolution was to regularly practice yoga, so I thought a fun way to check in with my progress on that would be to share how I finally nailed a headstand without a wall. Some weeks are better than others, but so far 2015 has marked a huge turn in my yoga practice (namely, I’m actually practicing haha).
There’s a hot yoga studio (H.Y.P.) on ClassPass that has a class right after I’m done teaching at Btone Wellesley on Tuesdays, so at the very least, I practice yoga once a week. In addition, I’ve done some new client specials at studios by my apartment, so some weeks I’ll practice up to four times. Those weeks are awesome because I really notice a difference in how deep I can get into the poses and the increased ease with which my body is moving. I think the key to consistency will be incorporating some shorter at-home yoga sessions into my week. Let the YouTube searching begin!
I’m a morning person and usually love early workouts, but I’ve found that I actually prefer practicing yoga at night. I’m not as stiff and that calm, relaxed post-yoga feeling makes for a great night’s sleep. Anyone else feel that way?
How I Get into Headstands without Using a Wall
Inversions scare the living sh*t out of me. It’s not so much holding them—I think I have the upper body and core strength to do that—it’s getting into them. Being tall is awesome and all, but when it comes to flinging your limbs into the air and sticking an upside-down balance, it’s a disadvantage. Or maybe I’m just a chicken. Either way, there is a reason why gymnasts are short!
There are lots of ways to get into a headstand, but I find the key for me is to keep my limbs as close to my center of gravity as possible. Rather than kicking up into the pose or lifting straight legs into the air, I start with bent knees close to my torso and extend straight up from there.
I’m not a trained yoga instructor (or even all that good at yoga), but here are some tips to go along with the pictures based on my personal practice and the advice certified teachers have given me in class:
- Place a blanket/towel underneath your head. The added padding makes it a lot more comfortable.
- Hands should be shoulder-width apart. The tendency is to plant the hands out wide, but that wider base actually isn’t as supportive as having the hands aligned with your shoulders. As a matter of fact, in looking at the pictures in this post, I think I could have had my hands in a little closer to each other.
- Once your knees are balanced on your elbows, squeeze the elbows in towards each other. One of the yoga teachers at Back Bay yoga gave me this tip—it’s a small adjustment, but you’ll feel a huge difference in stabilization if you actively squeeze the elbows in as you lift the knees off your arms and into the air.
- To hit a straight line with your body, you’ll need to pull the legs back a few degrees passed your perceived midline. If you’re a beginner like me, the scariest part of the inversion is the last few inches of pulling your legs up and back to form a vertical line with your body. Taking these pictures actually helped me a lot because I could look back on my form. When I thought I was in a straight line, my legs where actually slightly in front of my body. I had to go to a point that felt like I would topple over backwards to achieve that straight alignment—engaging my back (rather than just my abs) to get there. Your entire core needs to work to stabilize, not just your front body.
Ok, next up: handstands. Eeek.
WEARING: tank: Lululemon (old) // leggings: c/o Eddie Bauer // sports bra: c/o PUMA (old)
And a big thanks to Nomadix for the printed towel—isn’t it gorgeous?! One of my college BFFs introduced me to guys behind the brand, and I instantly fell in love with the bright prints and their message: Own less. Do more. I use my towel for yoga (usually on top of my mat during hot yoga), but it can also be used at the beach, picnics, hiking, etc. It’s made from 100% recycled material and is lightweight so it’s easy to pack and fit in a bag. Pictured is their Zig Zag Towel.