5 Ways I Conquered Scorpion Pose At Age 50
They say you’re only as old as you feel. At half a century, there are days I feel my age. Yoga keeps me feeling invigorated and connected to my body, which contributes to feelings of youthfulness. But handstands, headstands, and armstands? Not only are they challenging, they can be downright scary. How did I go from being a kid who did handstands to a 45-year-old who was nervous about getting upside down? Having never done arm stands, even in my youth, the Scorpion Pose seemed like an insurmountable challenge. With practice, I successfully re-taught myself how to do headstands and handstands, but I couldn’t seem to get into an arm stand without falling on my head.
All that has changed now. Here’s how I did it:
I found a yoga teacher who helped me.
There is more than one way to do any yoga pose, so it’s important to try different things and find what works for you. Some teachers were adamant about having my arms parallel while attempting arm stands.
Initially I didn’t have the strength to hold my head off the ground and my shoulders would give out. But one yoga teacher suggested I clasp my hands together. That isometric action made all the difference and made my first successful arm stand possible.
I faced my fear.
This is a huge factor in any inversion. Let’s face it. Getting upside down can be scary. We aren’t grounded. We could fall. We could get hurt.
To face my fear, I practiced doing somersaults. That way if I fell backward, I knew how to roll out of it. Also, I used the wall for support until my confidence increased.
I took baby steps.
With arm stands, there are very specific poses you can do to increase the odds of success. These poses include the Sphinx Pose, Forearm Plank, Dolphin Pose and 3-legged Dolphin Pose. Especially in Dolphin Pose, it was a major breakthrough for me to press my forearms away so that my biceps became aligned with my ears.
I finally figured out that by keeping my elbows underneath my shoulders and looking down at the ground, I had a better chance of getting off the ground.
I learned how to use my breath.
Of course this is key in any yoga practice. It’s natural to revert to shallow breathing or gulping for air any time we feel challenged. The beauty of doing something outside our comfort zone in a yoga environment is we practice slowing our breath under stress in order to learn how to more effectively deal with real life issues. I practiced a slow 4-count breath before and during my efforts in order to keep calm and carry on. Another epiphany is that it was easier for me to kick up on an inhale than an exhale. Breathing in makes me feel more buoyant.
I decided to believe I could do it.
For a long time, I wanted to avoid all inversions except Downward Dog. They seemed like too much work and I always had lots of reasons not to try them. But after breaking my arm in an accident 5 years ago, I decided that handstands, headstands and arm stands would be a good way to build up my strength, increase mobility in my shoulder and improve my sense of balance.
I decided to believe in myself, to keep trying and to cut myself a lot of slack when I failed. I kept practicing my baby step poses and kicking up into the air at least a few days a week.
After a few years of effort and at 50 years old, I can now do headstands confidently with no support and I can do handstands and arm stands against a wall or on a soft surface so I can on summersault out if needed. My fear has evaporated and being upside down has become really fun. It’s improved my confidence. If a doubter like me can do it, you can too!
Happy inverting, everyone. Namaste.
All Images courtesy of K. Mae Copham and Robert Oakley.
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