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I never learned how to fall properly. Having never played organized sports, (except for 5th grade soccer and I made sure to stay as far away from the ball as possible) I never learned how to fall. There seems to be an art in falling. Athletes fall and stumble all the time, but they recover quickly due to their swift reflexes. I think some people are born with really great reflexes, and others learn to build them up over time and practice.
Well, there tends to be a good amount of falling in yoga. Between the standing poses, inversions and arm balances, you need to be ok with falling. Balance takes practice. Learning which muscles to engage and how to steady yourself to keep from falling comes in time, but we all fall. No matter what level of yoga you practice, no matter how long you’ve been practicing or how good you are, we all fall. Famous yogis fall. Your favorite teacher falls. The key - I believe – is to learn HOW to fall.
I’ve put together a list of poses that we tend to fall out of, and some tips on how to fall better. In my personal experience, knowing how to fall out of a pose makes it less scary. Think of it as a method to the madness.
1. Handstand: Many people are scared of falling on their head when trying to balance in handstand. Keep your arms straight, even when falling, and your head will stay away from the ground. If you feel yourself falling back, or sideways, act as if you were doing a cartwheel and extend your legs out into a V shape, and push off your hands.
2. Forearm Stand: This one always scared me. The idea of falling backwards while on my forearms seemed like an injury waiting to happen. The key is to tuck your chin to your chest. You will end up doing a summersault. Or, if you have open shoulders and a nice backbend practice, you might just land on your feet in a forearm wheel.
3. Headstand: Headstand is intimidating for some people because they worry about putting all their weight into their head. The key is to keep most of the weight in your forearms, if you are in Supported Headstand, or, if you are in tripod headstand, all the weight should be in your hands. If you happen to fall, you will land on your feet. Try to keep muscle engagement even as you bring your legs down; it will help with an easy, light landing.
4. Any Standing Balancing Posture: You can gain better balance if you keep your gaze focused on one unmoving spot. Every time you feel like you are losing your balance, try to refocus your gaze and pull all your energy in towards the core. As long as you balancing on one foot, falling shouldn’t be that scary. Just place your other foot down! And, if you happen to lose your balance suddenly and plop-asana onto your mat, just smile- it happens!
5. Arm Balances: Scared of face planting? Me too. Place a blanket on your mat and set yourself up so that when you are balancing on your hands, the blanket is right under your head. Press into your fingers and knuckles – that will you balance and actually direct your body where to go. Just make sure to turn your head to the side if you fall, hopefully avoiding landing right on your nose.
Morgan Gertler Pirog
Writer/Dreamer: Creating Things of Enduring Value
Morgan is a believer that positive thoughts will lead to positive actions. She found yoga several years ago and was immediately drawn to the unification of body, breath & mind. Her other loves include her husband, her pit bull mix Jagger and mermaids.