This is shakti’s response to a question from a student regarding shoulder stand. shakti’s response is in italics and bold below.
There is no one way to live life, to become realized or to teach shoulder stand. The more we rely on gadgets in life and in yoga, the more we limit our practice.
Question from student:
The class of May 2006 have all been corresponding together as a group and one of the subjects we have been discussing is shoulder stand. Many of us have been finding students are taught to put the blanket only under the shoulders and argue that this puts less pressure on their necks.
You can modify the pressure on the neck by simply moving the pelvis away from the head and lowering the legs towards 45 degree until it feels comfortable. I guess an Anusara course Janice went to taught it like this and explained that putting the blanket under the neck made it to flat not keeping the natural curve in the neck.
The asanas evolved around the natural skeletal structure. The neck curve hasn’t changed in the last million years. Can you imagine the ancient yogi wandering naked and living in a cave always holding a towel in his hand in case he had to do salamba sarvangasana (shoulder stand)?
I have been confused on the issue as have many of the other students from class.
Not that the blanket is the source for all of your confusion; it’s the mind’s need to have a black and white answer, to posses the ultimate and only truth about the subject.
Fortunately, neither I nor anyone in existence is holding the absolute answer for yes or no blanket under the neck or what is the aim of life. That’s what makes life such a lovely dance. Next time you are confused about how to teach an asana get on the floor, play with the options and make sense of it to yourself. And even then do not hold on it as the absolute principle as you never know what the next moment will bring. Learn as much as you feel you need but always keep your hands empty as the absolute way of doing things is unfolded in each moment. If you would like to live life authentically you will need to start knowing for yourself.