Last night in class I demonstrated how NOT to simply drop your head back when it comes to looking upwards. Predictably, I’ve got a rare headache this morning…(I’ll count myself lucky though).
This week I’ve been explaining in a little more detail the importance of “bandha” again – particularly when it comes to your neck and also, if it’s relevant, when/how you breathe in these instances. This is particularly the case when/if you randomly throw your head back, niggling (once again) usually the most niggliest and most vulnerable vertebra in the neck and combine this action with a deep inhale. Seriously, if you happen to be a mouth breather, it could be one of the most dangerous things you ever do. Why? It’s all to do with the oxygen supply to your brain. Lots of people in class have heard me tell the story of how my yoga teacher demonstrated what NOT to do in a workshop years ago, and promptly crumpled in a heap. Yes, he fainted. By accident. And luckily, he landed safely. But in that moment, many of us were totally traumatised as we thought he had died before our eyes because it could have been worse; he could have had a stroke. Rare, but possible.
Think of “bandha” as being like a natural “bandage” ; a way of protecting something, in this case, your joints and your nervous system. If you are not sure you understand how to do this, then doing a posture like a headstand could change your life – and not for the better! Indeed, world renowned yoga teacher Donna Farhi still suffers chronic nerve pain in her neck since falling out of a headstand in the early days of her practise, 30 odd years ago, hence, promoting safe practise has become her dharma. But, it never ceases to amaze me that this stuff is still encouraged in many yoga classes and even on paddle boards (WTF??) to complete strangers of all ages and conditions.
In these images I have activated two types of jalandhara (neck) bandha. In the headstand, my neck is long but I’m not squishing my throat. In the lunge, my throat (front of neck) is lengthened, but I haven’t squished the back of my neck.
Please do take your neck seriously and if you are not sure, ASK.