Each week smile in the sky feature a different yoga pose and 5 physical health benefits and 5 mental health benefits related to it
This week…headstand. [Sanskrit translation: Sirsasana: sirs (head), asana (pose)].
Headstand is considered the king of the poses. Take a safe and gradual development to the pose: begin with dolphin, then knees to chest, then headstand.
Physical benefit: NECK STRENGTHENING
We use the neck muscles so much in our daily life, often without awareness. I always focus on awareness and mobility of the neck in class warmup. Direct strengthening of the muscles in the neck is rare and important, and central to protecting from pain in this pose.
Mental benefit: PROBLEM SOLVING
Sometimes seeing things from a different perspective can allow us to come to a decision. Inverting our view can help us gain the clarity to reframe what we see.
Physical benefit: RELIEVE SPINAL PAIN
Changing the distribution of weight so that the pelvic girdle doesn’t bear the heavier weight of the upper body can ease stiffness in the back and relieve pain.
Mental benefit: LESS STRESS
Decreased muscle tension and improved spinal alignment can lower stress levels.
Physical benefit: IMPROVED DIGESTION
Inversions can assist movement of food and drink in the body and help remove any stuckness in the digestive system.
Mental benefit: BETTER SLEEP
Improved blood circulation can assist relaxation, helping to counter insomnia.
Physical benefit: CORE STABILITY
Use of the mula bandha is crucial to maintain this pose, utilizing the deep abdominals. Variations using the legs, performing something like an inverted sit-up are a great way to challenge balance and tone the abdominals.
Mental benefit: CONCENTRATION/DHARANA
Practice of maintaining focus on a single point (drishti), can help us improve concentration levels.
Physical benefit: PRANAYAMA
Breath is long, smooth and deep to find balance between maintaining muscle strength/activation and relaxation. Breath is the key to finding that ‘sweet spot’: a feeling of weightlessness when the balance point in the pose is found.
Mental benefit: IMPROVED MOOD
Healthy blood flow can improve neurotransmitter function in the brain (eg serotonin and dopamine), to improve mood.
To learn more about the mind-body connection and ways to improve your mental health see www.smileinthesky.com for workshops for mental health, yoga, and research consultancy.
Next week… wheel pose[Chakrasana]