Jen Mendola Owns Classical Headstand Pose

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John Doe

Please meet Jen Mendola.  She is Mind Body Flow Yoga’s featured student for this month’s newsletter.  Jen has a beautiful yoga practice and was generous in sharing it with us, as she demonstrates classical headstand pose (Salambra Sirsasana).

 

Mind Body Flow Yoga’s Very Own Jen Mendola and Her Life-Changing Experience with Yoga

My name is Jen Mendola. I have always wanted to practice yoga, but it seemed so elusive to me.
How will I know what to do?
Will I be strong or flexible enough?
I actually attended a trunk show at MBFY when the studio was first opening to check it out. It was inviting, yet I had that feeling similar to being in line at Chipotle for the first time, ordering my first burrito and being completely clueless! I can’t do this, I thought. Everyone will know I have no idea what I am doing and it will be embarrassing. I was a “NO.”

I can’t do this, I thought. Everyone will know I have no idea what I am doing and it will be embarrassing. I was a “NO.”

So, time passed and I continued doing cardio and weight lifting classes at the same local gym I’ve been a member of the past 10 years. As I approached my 40th birthday, I was diagnosed with a herniated cervical disc and another disc was bulging. Just to walk felt like someone was driving a knife up the back of my neck and into my head.
I was suffering from horrible headaches.
I felt broken.

Just to walk felt like someone was driving a knife up the back of my neck and into my head.

I sought out specialists, had a battery of tests, and they gave me different treatment plans. I did not like any of my options! Being the holistic person that I am, I found that physical therapy would be my course of action. I quickly realized that all the “exercises” PT had me doing were yoga based.
Once again, my thoughts turned to yoga. Still feeling hesitant, I tried to resume my normal cardio routine, but something needed to change, something was missing.

…something needed to change, something was missing.

About a year and a half ago, a friend and coworker invited me to yoga at a local park. She was scheduled to sing for that class, which was to feature live music and said I would love it.
So I went, and it captured my heart immediately. My body felt good, and more importantly my mind felt good!
My first few months were challenging though. Marina has a special way of keeping in touch just when I needed it. I was still recovering, and I still had those feelings of doubt floating to the surface.
Marina asked me a few months ago to be the featured student of the month and I was a huge, loud “NO!”
I still was not ready. I am humble and I do not like the spotlight on me. I continued with my practice, making time for myself on my mat. The instructors tell you things like “link your breath to your movement, decide on an intention for class, drop what doesn’t serve you, and (my all time favorite) be a “YES.” I thought, what on earth does all that mean? Well guess what, I found out.

…“link your breath to your movement, decide on an intention for class, drop what doesn’t serve you, and (my all time favorite) be a “YES.” I thought, what on earth does all that mean?

Little by little it happened, a shift, the connection, and I heard the words course through my head one day during class “my body needs this.”
Marina sensed the change as I floated up into my first headstand.
Once again, she asked me to be the featured student, and well…here I am! A “YES!”
Yoga has truly been a journey to the center of my being. I am not practicing yoga to look perfect in each pose. I am practicing yoga because I was created perfect and this moving mediation is so essential for the health of my mind, body, and spirit.
Featured Student Jennifer Mendola 151201
The MBFY community is just amazing. NO one judges, and everyone is so friendly. The instructors are well educated on proper body alignment, and are so beautifully motivating.
I just took a class taught by Mary and she quoted Rumi, “The wound is the place where Light enters you.”
This is how I view my yoga story.
We all have a story. I needed to accept and feel the pain and emotions from my injury and then I chose to be a “YES.”
I no longer feel like my body is broken. I believe all things in life happen for a reason. God does have a plan for me.

I no longer feel like my body is broken. I believe all things in life happen for a reason. God does have a plan for me.

Yoga has taught me how to utilize my breath, my life force, to keep grounded and calm in times of stress, and to keep my light shining bright.
I am choosing to be a “YES” in my life as a wife, a mom of three beautiful children, and as a professional.
And that’s MY yoga story.
Leave a comment below.  What stood out to you in the testimonial? What significant experience have you had in your yoga journey? 


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 Jen enter into this asana from Mountain Pose (Tadasana). She 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 Classical Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)

  • Kneel on the floor. Interlace your fingers together and set your forearms on the floor, setting your elbows at shoulder width distance. Create an external rotation of the upper arms and press the inner wrists firmly into the floor. Place the crown of your head on the floor. Press the bases of your palms together and nestle the crown of your head against the clasped hands.
  • Take a deep breath in and lift your knees off the floor. Carefully walk your feet closer towards your elbows, keeping your heels lifted high. Actively engage and lift the top thighs, forming an upside letter “V.” Press the shoulder blades into your back, so your torso and spine stays as long as possible. This will help keep the weight distribution even, so that the shoulders don’t collapse onto your neck and head.Bring your hands in front of your chest in prayer
  • Take a deep breath out and lift your feet up and away from the floor. Take both feet up at the same time, if possible. Bending your knees and hopping lightly off the floor is okay. As your legs/thighs lift to become perpendicular to the floor, tuck your tailbone down, creating a neutral pelvis. Squeeze your thighs into center-line and actively press your heels toward the ceiling, straightening the knees.
  • As a beginner to this pose, stay in the pose for 10 seconds. Over time, add 5 to 10 seconds or so onto your time in the pose, until you can comfortably hold the pose for 5-10 deep breaths. Come out of the pose on an exhale breath. Come out slowly and mindfully, without losing the lift of the shoulder blades on the back. Aim to have both feet touching the floor at the same time.

Benefits

  • 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

Caution

  • 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.
  • Classical headstand (Sirsasana) 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 instructor.

Have you tried this pose before? What has been your experience?