Sirsasana – A Reflective Asana

I have always been in awe of the ease with which people get into various asana poses and simply be. But the pose that always caught my eye and curiosity was the Sirsasana or headstand. It was my goal to get up in a headstand from the day I started my asana practice. But as I learnt more and more about the King of Asana, its preparation and benefits; it went from being something ‘cool and worth showing off’ to acting as a mirror for self-reflection. Though preparing my body to get into a headstand was very smooth and clear. But, as I approached getting into the headstand pose each time, it was nothing but an enactment of my truths. Here is how:

1] The easiest way to get up on a headstand is with the help of a wall. While a lot of people are happy to take support of the wall and be inverted, for me this comfort was a source of discomfort. The supported headstand did not bring me any santosham or sense of ‘I did it, woohoo!’. The more the safe zone the more I was bored and unhappy. Much like the time I decided to take a plunge into entrepreneurship leaving behind my plush corporate job. If you keep having a cushion and not let go, how does one expect to fulfill one’s dreams? It was only when Draupadi let go of her Saree completely that Krishna came to her aid. Till the time you take support of the wall, the headstand would only be a mere physical pose achieved and not a means to connect deeper with yourself.

2] As I tried to leave the wall behind and be inverted, there was a gush of fear that engulfed my body; my legs tightened, and my shoulders were shaky. Even though my teacher was beside me assuring me that she would catch me if I falter, I paid no heed to her. The fear tightened me up so much that it made sure I could not get my feet up in the air. What was the fear I asked myself? The fear of falling. The fear of falling and more so falling in my own eyes had sprouted when my first start-up did not work, since then the fear props up each time I even think of my next idea.  I realised there is no guarantee that the wound will ever be completely healed, and the fears would come up every now and then. That is perfectly OK!

3] I used to approach the headstand with my mind, saying ‘I have got to get into a headstand come what may’; which essentially also meant I must battle my fear. I fought it like a bull locking horns, and sure enough it did not work because the mind is a terrible master. Then what? Did I wait in a corner wishing for the fear to go away? No, instead I went up to my fears, looked her in the eyes with a quiet mind and acknowledged it. I decided to cut off her lifeline and redirect the energy. In this case, I was redirecting it to my apana region (the lower abdomen) and let the breath and ONLY the breath, not my mind, guide me up in a headstand. Believe it or not, I calmly got up in a headstand in the middle of the room without any support. And voila it worked!

P.S. I won’t deny that after I came down, I had to pause to understand what had happened.

The turning point for me was to acknowledge the asuric tendency within me (the dark side) and not fighting it to make it go away because it never will. The Daivic and and Asuric or the light and dark sides exist side by side in all of us. The key is to focus the energies on the Daivic and let it dominate. So simple, yet so powerful, no?

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Gayatri Iyer
Gayatri Iyer is an artist and traveler with a mission to discover the unknown, lost and beautiful parts of herself while also discovering the true meaning of her roots of being an Indian. A free spirited yogini with a deep love for yoga, theater, food, watercolors, story-telling evident through her book, Life's Macchiato: A collection of your stories. The best part is that all these passions saw the light of the day through her adventures like her food start up Chef In A Box, a designer stationery line called Ahem, Theater performance in a play called Unrest, freelance illustrator, story teller, travel and creative consultant. Oh the list is not ended, stay tuned for more of her!

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