Every time I teach headstand (Sirsasana) to someone for the first time I am newly delighted by the positivity that it brings. People smile with every tooth. They overcome a fear or hesitancy, set a goal and rise to it - exactly the kind of lesson we need to take off the mat and into life. It gives a profound sense of presence; let the mind wander and you’ll fall. It achieves what we are striving for in class, to still the fluctuations of the mind.
By what exactly explains the happiness that headstand stimulates? We get a good feeling from other difficult postures that we achieve but this is different. Headstand stimulates the pituitary gland (regulates hormones) and pineal gland (including secretion of melatonin, serotonin and dopamine). This means it stimulates a collection of happiness, positivity and relaxation hormones. Conversely, low levels of melatonin are linked to insomnia, fatigue and anxiety.
Finally, headstand will give you the sleep of kings! It’s the King of the Asanas, after all, and it controls the Kingdom! The Pineal gland creates melatonin sleepiness in the evening and dopamine wakefulness in the morning. I get lovely feedback from people who achieve headstand for the first time. There really is a ‘bliss effect’.
The retreat of September 9th – 16th is over half full, all will be coming to Kapsali for the first time. This tiny and exquisite seaside village will inspire your yoga and make you feel fabulous. Yoga in our normal setting takes the edge off life's stresses but yoga in Kapsali is practiced at a whole new level. The body unwinds and the shoulders drop down to their rightful place. I think of Kapsali as a place where my soul can breathe. Come with me.
October Happiness Retreat
I decided not to teach on Easter Monday but I have added a 6.00pm class on Tuesday to try to make up for it. See what’s available here. (I update this every Friday before posting this email.) Book here.
Next weekend, on the mornings of the 7th and 8th of April, I’ll be doing the Ashtanga weekend with Eddie Stern from the Brooklyn Yoga Club. His lectures will be: How Does Yoga Work? and Yoga as Social Justice. Come with me!
Yoga in the news
Prime Minister Modi of India is continuing the rich history of Yoga as a political tool as The Guardian tells us: Yoga with Modi: Indian PM stars in cartoon video of poses. He has released a cartoon video of himself demonstrating different poses. He emphasises that the discipline, rooted in ancient Indian religious traditions, is key to health. (If you’re interested in how this fits in to the recent history of yoga, read Mark Singleton’s book, Yoga Body.)
The Evening Standard tells us that: Arsenal star Laurent Koscielny reveals how yoga is helping to ease his tendon injury. He says: “I can recover better after the matches. At Arsenal a yoga teacher comes once a week to give classes, which is another form of therapy that allows you to work on relaxation, meditation, breathing, stretching, many important areas for a football player.” (Aston Villa has now made yoga compulsory in the academy, says Birmingham Live.)