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I love going upside down in yoga. It is one of the funnest feelings. It feels empowering. Learning to balance upside down has brought me lots of joy and a sense of strength.
Like Oprah, I am going to recommend some things I love from my little platform here on my blog. No pressure to buy them yourselves, but if you find them intriguing, then check them out! (If you use the link above to buy it, I get a little money for the recommendation.)
I read a book talking about the health benefits and also the potential risks of doing yoga. The author had researched a lot of different yoga claims and looked to see if they were true or not. He also looked into what might be dangerous about yoga.
I have always loved doing headstands. Balancing and being upside down is one of the most beautiful feelings to me in the world. Reading his book made me think twice about it. He said about 300 people a year have strokes from doing yoga. Most of those have the issues brought on from doing headstands. The pressure put on the head can be too much in the necks of people who are most likely already prone to strokes. ( My thoughts on this: It seems to me that yoga probably prevents more strokes than it causes. But I think it is worth taking whatever precautions I can and my students can to be sure to stay healthy. Nobody needs a stroke. And who knows who is prone to them and who isn't?)
So that was enough for me to look into these headstand stools. I had thought about getting one before. But it seemed like a lot of money to spend on something to be able to do what I was already doing for free (headstand). I went online and read reviews. Everybody loved this thing. Really.
And so I ordered it.
It came a few days later and I put it together with the little tool that was included in the box. That took about five minutes. Maybe less.
I sat on it to make sure it would hold me up before going upside down on it. It was sturdy and solid.
I put the seat against the wall. I faced the wall and knelt down. I put my head into the little hole and my shoulders on the pads. I walked my legs forward so my hips were lined up above my shoulders and head. And then I kicked up, one leg at a time.
I was instantly addicted. I went nuts for this thing. I would try to stay upside down for a minute or two minutes and do it over and over each day. I was upside down for a long time for the first week. Probably about five minutes per day.
And then I looked in the mirror and noticed some little red dots on my forehead. It looked like I had a rash, but it was not itchy. I wondered what I had put on my skin that irritated it. And why would it irritate just my forehead?
It dawned on me. I was upside down so much I was having capillaries break in my forehead. Holy moly! Not good!
I went online and read about headstand and handstand and broken capillaries. I was not the first person to do this. Many others got enthusiastic about inversions before me and wound up with lots of little capillaries breaking in their faces.
It does put pressure on your head to go upside down. And it also gives your brain a nice flush of oxygen. It feels great. And like many other things, it is wise to do it in moderation.
I read on and many people said they had to start with just thirty seconds per day of going upside down regularly. After a month, they were able to do more. Increasing slowly and steadily was key.
And so my excitement had to give way to good sense and I started going upside down just for thirty seconds each day. I did that for a few months. I did that until it felt easy and like there was not so much pressure in my head. And then after a while, I went up to forty five seconds per day.
I have been doing these inversions with the headstand bench for about six months. In that time, I have noticed my teeth getting whiter. Now, I have also improved my diet, adding in more salads. But I think it might also have something to do with the headstands. The blood flowing through my head probably is nourishing to my mouth as well. And a recurrent ear infection seems to be much less present.
Maybe those benefits are real and maybe they are things that have come from eating better. Maybe a little of both.
I have certainly gotten more confident and more smooth with taking my legs up above my head and keeping them there and bringing them back down. The control of that action that comes with repetition has finally started to be part of my practice. For years, I kicked up one leg as hard as I could to the wall and then the other came up behind it. Then I was able to kick one leg up with control and the other followed it. And then I did not need to be right by the wall to do it. But now I can do it all smoothly and kick up with either leg or pike up with both at once. And that came from just doing this over and over for a half a minute every day.