We had a mini-workshop on the weekend (unplanned) where our class ended up playing around with hornstand and ways to help ourselves in this posture.
Hornstand is a forearm balance--that means the head is not on the ground. The head is as far away from the ground as you can manage. If your head starts to unintentionally dip towards the ground while you are in this posture then come out.
You should feel light and lifting in this posture and all of its variations. If you feel heavy and sinking then these practices are not for you just yet.
In the video below I have put some ways to practice hornstand with increasing difficulty. I have skipped the more basic practices and this post assumes you can get yourself into a downward dog on forearms position while feeling freedom around the neck and shoulder area. If you cannot then don't practice any of these variations.
Variation one is against the wall with your tummy facing the wall. I get myself into a small little ball and then 'emerge' into forearm down-dog from this little ball. I am not concerned with straightening my legs but more trying to let my spine unroll and feel as light as possible. In class I sometimes say it is as though a crane has got your hips and is just lifting them straight up.
In this wall variation I am on tip toes. The soles of my feet are against the wall. Being able to be on the tip toes is important for the upcoming variations.
If it feels comfortable (and no sinking head) I can take one foot up, then the other. My legs are not straight. I am not trying to make an 'l' shape. If possible I take one leg up and reach up through the ball of foot and hang out there. This is actually 'easier' than having both feet on the wall. It is a great way to start to feel your balance and lightness. Don't try to take two feet off. If you come crashing down it will be into the wall and will really hurt.
Variation two relies on you being able to kick up to a wall. That is a technique in itself (not described here). If you can get to the wall then I practice trying to find my balance point by keeping one tip toe on the wall as lightly as possible. Then, slowly remove the other leg and bring it more over your shoulders. You will need to find the place where you feel like it is helping you lift and reach and balance.
Keeping the toe tip lightly on the wall you hang around there and start to pay around with putting weight through the horn and making slight weight shift variations until that toe tip starts to 'float' off the wall. When you are in the right balance the toe will just come away from the wall so don't try to take it off.
Variation three is the full hornstand away from the wall. Look how far my kicking leg has to come behind me initially. I spend some time in a sort of 'splits' with the legs and slowly bring the front leg up as I bring the back leg forward to bring them together.
Don't practice this without a teacher. This post is mainly intended for regular class attendees who can get individual attention and adjustments so we can discuss whether this is appropriate for you.
Happy new year. Happy and safe practicing.
Canberra Outdoor Yoga