Monday, 22 August 2011

The Seven deadlies, 2nd series headstands. UPDATED with 'distinct' chaturanga

Revisiting the seven deadlies, now I'm back doing 2nd series, for some reason I decided to do the full drop from headstand. I was surprised at how slow and controlled it was dropping down, had expected more of a clunk.

The drop
A couple of years back I had started doing a half drop, bringing the legs slowly down to pike and then dropping from there. The main reason was that it was a lot quiter on my floorboards of a morning but I figured it was probably gentler on the toes too.

The full drop from headstand can be a little daunting, the half version less so  but I think there's also something about lowering the legs half way that sets you up for a more controlled drop which you can then shift to the full drop.

I'm engaging my bandhas ( clenching your butt and sucking in your belly is the simplest way to describe that, gets a little more subtle as you explore the bandhas more but it's enough to be going on with) and pushing down into the mat as I drop which slows the descent, sucks some of the energy out of the drop and gives me time to bring my hands into position.

The hands
The hand thing can be tricky. I used to balance on my head for a moment (fraction of a second) while I started to move my hands, kind of get ahead of the game if you like.

The Entry
I've seen a few different versions of this, I do it Chuck style, stepping in lowering one knee then the other before getting my hands in position but I've seen a little mini jump to both knees. Kino has a neat version, she pretty much stays in down dog lowers her head, then brings her arms into position.

Going up
You can go up one leg at a time or bring your knees to your chest and push up from there but the float up is nice. The trick to floating up is walking in as close as you can bringing your hips over your shoulders, as you lean back a little your legs pretty much start to go up on their own, although your belly strength will have to do the rest of the work.

The trickiest one is baddha haste Sirsasana C or the 6th one with your hands in pincha but it's just a case of walking in even further, try it with the wall behind you to get over the fear of falling backwards. Talking of pincha mayurasana, I saw somebody float up into that in a video recently. Tried it this morning and can't for the life of me imagine how she did new project. Must ask if she minds me posting it here, quite beautiful

Here then are my current seven deadlies with the full drop and below that the half drop, gentler, quieter version that I used for a couple of years.

V just told me in comments that I should be landing in a distinct chaturanga. Surely this is something that's changed over the years, no? NO?

I skimmed through my iTunes Ashtanga movie playlist, Jois led 2nd from Yogaworks? Nooooo,  Chaturanga. Kino? Chaturanga. Swensen, surely our David, old school and all that, nope Chaturanga (you let me down David) ...chaturanga, chaturanga, CHATURANGA,

Bugger, my bad.

OK, so not everything changes.

Here then is my first, long overdue, attempt at a 'distinct' chaturanga landing ....fresh from a very hot bath.

Elbows could be less splayed perhaps, but close enough?


  1. You need to land in a very distinct chaturanga, not in a half chaturanga half updog.

  2. Hi V. Hope today went well.
    My first thought was that it must have changed, looked at Swenson, Freeman, fished out the Jois led second from yoga works but no, looks like it's always been dropping into a distinct chatauranga, wonder where I got my way from, can usually trace my quirks back to one of those old videos.
    My bad, will do it again. Thanks for the heads up.

    Shame, kinda like my way.

  3. Not that I know anything about such advanced moves, but in my mind I picture landing in up dog would crunch the low back. Do you not feel it Grimmly? Or maybe you just have super strong bandhas :)

  4. No Yyogini, feels fine as if your taking all the energy out of the drop by moving straight on through to upward dog. Am just uploading my first Chaturanga landing attempt to youtube.

  5. You are almost there in the second video, just remember to look at the wall in front of you instead of down, you are a tiny bit hunched because you are looking down.

  6. Thanks V. Yes, noticed I was looking down when I watched it back, hadn't realised. Will play with it tomorrow morning.

  7. thanks for posting your studies. I am currently obsessed with these seven headstands. . . I appreciate your work. thanks again!

  8. Lovely headstands...but I have to admit I winced every time you came down....oh my back twinged in sympathy! I practice/teach a power vinyasa style and we were always taught to land in chaturanga. Oh just read the update to your post and glad to see you found some info on landing... :)

    Now, I have to go work on getting into a few of these headstands myself!

  9. Thanks mardi and good luck with them.

    Thanks shizzknits, funny enough my old way feels better, all the energy from the drop gets dissipated I think as I move on through to upward dog.... but hey, what can I do , I'm a traditionalist : ), chaturanga it is.

  10. That's not to say I didn't appreciate you picking me up on the drop to chaturanga yesterday I did.

  11. My understanding of 'landing' in chaturanga is to complete the exhale, to lift uddiyana bandha at the end of the exhale completing the breath and the pose. Like you would in suryas or elsewhere. Then Upward dog is done with a complete inhale (when the common tendency is to shorten the breath in up dog).

  12. Thank you for this tm noticed wasn't confident with what I was doing with the the breath yesterday on the drop, think i was even holding it for a second, will look at it mnore closely this morning.

  13. Sharing how you've learnt your asanas along your yoga journey = teaching? So be it if that's how it's construed, doesn't matter as long as people have the sense to be aware and take it easy when trying out what you may suggest.

    There's more than one approach to 'getting' an asana, may you continue in whatever mode you wish to share this with us.


  14. Thank you AC, kind of you to jump in with that, appreciate it. I think that most people do have the sense to be aware and take a common sense approach, those that don't would be just as likely to do something stupid in a shala. We're not talking kids here, most people who visit here have been around the block a few times. As you say lots of different approaches to the asana. And of course different styles consider different postures to be advanced or fundamental or just another pose.



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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included. "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta