This is a preparatory posture for Sirsasana (Headstand) and Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance). In the West, many students are taught Headstand before they can hold Forearm Stand. It's crucial to have the strength to lower and lift yourself between these postures so you don’t compress or damage the cervical spine. This variation is being offered as way to relax the neck. You can feel the benefits of an inversion and experience the freedom that will come in future forearm balances. Overuse of the neck muscles has become an epidemic in yoga classes due to premature practice of eagerly attempted advanced postures. The same benefit of inversion can be attained from the preparatory postures like the one demonstrated by our amazing Yoga To You yogi @amyob46.
It is best to have an experienced yoga student or teacher support you in this pose. By placing the block at the longest length between the scapula, the student can gently press into the block encouraging the lower ribs to draw in. There are many things happening in his posture from finding the pelvic floor and the plum line, aligning the rib basket with the pelvis, and activating the pelvic floor and the breathing style. This variation of pressing into the block allows for an amazing feeling of freedom and relaxation in the neck. Keep reminding yourself to relax your neck, the jaw muscles, the space between your eyebrows, and your eye sockets to encourage the nervous system to be calm and to reduce the possibility of a fight or flight response. Sometimes too many directional cues can overwhelm a student, so keep it simple! Come to Ardha Pincha Mayurasana and test how close you can get to the block. You should not feel like you are reaching too far to touch it. This ability will depend on hamstring flexibility and arm length; it's not the same for everyone! Shoulders are stacked over the elbows (careful that this position does not shift once they are pressing into the block). Once you can gently press into the block, glide the lower ribs in softly while simultaneously pressing the elbow tips and forearms down and forward toward the wall behind you. Keep bringing yourself back to your base and the line of energy from your elbow tips and forearms to the fingertips. Gently push down into the earth and slightly forward. Once you feel this and you are relaxed, ask your partner or teacher to ensure that you are hollowing the arms, drawing the outer upper arms back, and broadening the scapula shoulders away from the earlobes. Again, all of these movements are slight and smooth, not harsh or jerky! Let the head relax and create a little space between the top teeth and the bottom teeth, especially in the very back of the jaw. Breath. Rest in Balasana for as long as you want! Enjoy!
Love & Light,
Lauren Fields, Owner of Yoga To You LLC