On Monday my friend Beth sent me this San Francisco Chronicle mini interview with a 65-year-old retiree (pictured at left) who practices yoga daily. Beth is a beginner with good posture and few ingrained bad habits, but she discounts her ability. Jokingly (or is she serious?), she blames age.
So, when she sent the Chronicle piece, she commented, “I guess I can no longer use age as an excuse.”
Yes, indeed. When I saw this picture of 65-year-old Challis Mosher, I was impressed by the pose: salamba sirsasana II (tripod headstand). Her hands are slightly too wide, but her elbows are properly aligned and her balance is solid. Me? I practice salamba sirsasana I (headstand with hands clasped) daily, but I should alternate it with the tripod version.
Challis’s smiling pose was my first wake-up call. Then, at my regular yoga class that very week, my teacher directed us to do tripod headstand. We typically practice sirsasana I, so it was quite a coincidence (and my second wake-up call).
While I could balance in tripod headstand, the pose tested me because it was less familiar. I had to place my head and hands in exact equilateral-triangle formation; I had to stabilize my shoulder girdle, lifting shoulder blades up and aligning all arm bones; I had to engage my core to maintain balance.
Tripod headstand forced me to work, to focus, and to be present (else topple). If Beth might make excuses about age and other irrelevancies, I might fall into routine. My daily practice is long and intense, but I tend to repeat my chosen asanas and sequences, which can lead to overuse (fatigue and injury) and mental wandering.
Thanks to these two wake-up calls, tripod headstand is now on the menu.