Please meet Andrew Kwiatkowski. He is Mind Body Flow Yoga’s featured student for this month’s newsletter. Andrew has a strong yoga practice and was generous in sharing it with us, as he demonstrates tripod headstand pose (Sirsasana II).
Andrew Shares His Yoga Journey
I began my yoga practice at Mind Body Flow Yoga, after taking a complimentary yoga lesson while working at the Niagara Falls Air Force Base, in the summer of 2016. The airbase was offering a weekend of various activities that focused on physical and mental well-being for soldiers; yoga and meditation were two classes that I attended. I was instantly hooked and luckily I knew a good friend would be anxious to hear this.
Marina and I have known each other since our time as interns at Independent Health (IHA) in the late 90’s (I think I still had hair at that point). I had already been studying kung fu a few years prior to working at IHA and, while I progressed well through the physical challenges, I always seemed to lag when it came to maintaining a sense of calm and mindfulness. Fast forward 20 years and I was sending a text to Marina immediately after the classes at the airbase telling her I was ready to start my journey at Mind Body Flow Yoga. I also began using a guided meditation phone app when I could find the time. I would soon learn that you make the time for meditation, just like you make the time for yoga, kung fu, spending quality time with your family, and anything else that is important to you.
This would become important in the months after. Between 80-90 hour work weeks due to the 2017 April cyber attack at ECMC where I am employed in the IT department, welcoming a new baby in January (while our four year old constantly tells us she is in charge), and assuming expanded responsibilities at work over the summer, meditation and yoga were no longer options, they became necessities to combat the challenges life presented. Prior to yoga (and even if I miss a few weeks of class at MBFY), I would find myself quicker to agitate, less positive, and always looking at things from a “glass is half empty” perspective. But, these stressful situations were temporary, as are the challenges that the MBFY teachers present to us. Marina consistently reminds the class of that and it has helped immensely with taking the yoga off the mat and into everyday life.
Each week, I come away from my Monday night yoga class mentally refreshed and physically energized. Stress that has built up evaporates. Lower back pain that existed from juggling a 10-month-old disappears. While solo yoga practice at home assists with this, there is no replacement for getting on your mat, putting your body through positions that months ago I could not accomplish, all the while Marina is telling you to smile, as gallons of sweat pours off of me. I don’t say, “I can’t.” I say, “I may not be able do this right now, but I will get there.”
While I still practice kung fu periodically, my teacher relocated to Florida a couple of years ago and I missed the sense of community that those classes used to bring with my kung fu brothers. I was able to find that again with MBFY classes.
I am honored to have Marina as my teacher. I use her teaching to help make me a better husband, father, and co-worker. One who is mindful of how attitude affects others. My wife would agree when I say that I am still very much a work in progress, but the Chinese philosopher, Laozi, wrote, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
What is this Pose About?
This is a grounded upside down balancing pose. The resulting shape is a deep opening through the arms, legs, and spine. Watch Andrew enter into this asana from Mountain Pose (Tadasana). He will exit the pose and land back in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) as well.
Here are a few things to keep in mind, if you decide to try this pose, or if you have already started to experiment and play around with it.
Tips for Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana II)
- Walk the feet in to shorten the stance of your Downward Facing Dog.
- Pick up the right leg bending the knee and place it lightly on the right triceps.
- Bend and place the left knee on the left triceps as well , so you’re in a tripod.
- Instead of letting the weight bear down on your arms, keep the triceps engaged by pushing them into the knees to resist the weight. This will help you keep the shoulders lifted as well.
- Take a deep breath in and lift your knees off the triceps. Lift the hips up as the thighs draw tight to the chest. Stay as compact as possible to help your center of gravity and core engage.
- Every few breaths remind yourself to lift the shoulders and keep the elbows in. Once the hips stack over the shoulders, the weight of the legs will lessen and the core will engage. Squeeze in through the lower belly to lightly pull the knees off the arms into a pike position in your chest.
- Keep the inner heels and big toes touching as the legs draw up towards the ceiling. Feet are flexed powerfully.
- Hug the inner thighs to the midline, expand through the backs of the kneecaps and spread the toes.
- From here you can reverse the process back into Child’s Pose or keep the feet flexed, keep the body strong like plank and float into Chaturanga.
- Calms the mind and helps relieve stress and mild depression
- Strengthens the arms, legs, and spine
- Stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands
- Strengthens the lungs
- Tones the abdominal muscles
- Improves digestion
- Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
- Therapeutic for asthma, infertility and insomnia
- Use caution with this pose if you have a back injury, headache, heart condition, high blood pressure, menstruation, neck injury, or low blood pressure.
- Pregnancy: If you are experienced with this pose, you can continue to practice it throughout your pregnancy. However, don’t take up the practice of this pose after you become pregnant.
- Tripod headstand (Sirsasana II) is considered to be an intermediate to advanced pose. Do not practice this pose without prior experience or unless you have the supervision of an experienced
Have you tried this pose before? What has been your experience?