There are also many reasons why students do not practice inversions. Sometimes this has to do with structural limitations such as rotator cuff injuries or lack of strength in the required muscles. Other times the very thought of taking the feet overhead is anxiety producing or students don't trust their own ability to support themselves. Even for a seasoned yoga practitioner holding an handstand or head stand for 5 minutes is quite demanding.
All of the above pros and cons are exactly why one of my favorite ways to practice sirsasana is supported on two chairs. As someone who has suffered from bursitis in my shoulder this variation was the perfect way for me to invert without hurting myself. Also due to the pressure of the chair on the upper trapezius muscle this supported posture has similar effects as getting a trigger point massage in the shoulders!
HOW TO GET INTO SUPPORTED SIRSASANA
- Take two folding chairs face to face with just enough room to squeeze your head through and set them up against a wall. Pad the chairs with two thick blankets or towels if you have sensitive shoulders.
- Facing the chairs forward bend and stick your head through to rest your upper shoulders on the chairs. Be sure you are close enough to the neck that the chairs are supporting the thick muscles of your traps not the bony part of your collar bones!
- Next keep your hips in the air and start to walk your feet in towards the wall as you begin to put more an more weight onto the shoulders and chairs. Once you are as close as you can get either slowly kick one leg up at a time or if you have the core strength draw both knees in and hop your back up to the wall. Once your back, butt and feet are at the wall slide the legs up to straight and rest for as long as you want upside down! If you are unable to get the legs up you can also add a third chair or stepping stool to raise the height of your legs and make it easier to get them overhead.
- To come out draw both knees down and in towards your chest until the feet come back down to earth. Rest in child's pose for at least one minute as the blood equalizes in your body.