Headstand pose or Śīrṣāsana has some of the greatest benefits of any yoga asana.
Headstands energize the body sending blood and nutrients to the brain, improve digestion aiding in the movement of food through the ileocecal valve (ascending colon), and stimulate lymphatic cleansing and drainage. All these benefits come from the effects of gravity acting in the opposite way it normally does against the body.
Mastering a headstand increases body awareness and should be a confidence boost and adrenaline rush as it is a major physical accomplishment! Headstands are very non-intuitive. We spend out entire lives walking on our feet so half the battle with a headstand is mental, but once you get over that mental battle, there is a simple step by step process to doing a headstand.
Here are a couple Headstand for beginners tips to make this posture a little more manageable.
There are 2 main ways to do a headstand.
Head Cradle – Pike Up
Arguably the harder of the two as it’s harder to press through ones elbows than hands, this option is also easier on the head because you can use your hands for support.
- Cradle hands together on the ground and place your head into your palms so that your hairline is in the center of your hands.
- Keeping your legs as straight as possible, walk on your toes towards your face as far as possible.
- When you can’t walk and further, suck your stomach in tightening the core as your press your elbows into the floor. You should feel toes begin to rise off the floor. (This would be the point where you can kick up to the wall if you would like, but always go through the first couple steps to build core strength so you can progress to piking up!)
- Floint (to floint means to flex your foot as you point your toes…we don’t want pointed toes in yoga) your toes to keep energy driving up and to keep your legs fully contracted so they don’t become dead weight.
- Once you reach headstand position, the work isn’t over. Go back to your breath. With every exhale suck your stomach in even more and with every inhale feel your body lengthening up towards the sky. Keep flointing your toes, pressing your elbows into the floor, and core nice and contracted throughout the posture.
If you’ve tried kicking up a couple times and are having success, but still can’t pike up, work to tuck up.
- Still walk your feet into your head as close as possible.
- Bend your knees and tuck them into your stomach, keeping them as close to your body as possible.
- Straighten one leg at a time moving slowly and staying with your breath.
Tripod Headstand – Straddle Up
Tripod headstand was the first headstand I did and arguably easier because you can straddle up which requires less core strength.
It is much easier in Tripod headstand to hurt your head or neck though so make sure you are absorbing as much weight as possible in your hands by pressing firmly into the floor.
- Legs about 4-5 feet apart, swan dive forward leading with your chest so you elongate your spine, place your head between your feet and your hands about 6 inches in front of your face, shoulder width apart.
- Rock up onto your tippy toes as much as possible, flointing your toes to drive energy up.
- Bring your legs together and then continue to grow stronger in your posture with each breath. With every exhale suck your stomach in even more and with every inhale feel your body lengthening up towards the sky. Keep flointing your toes, pressing your elbows into the floor, and core nice and contracted throughout the posture.
In tripod headstand it’s important to keep pressing your elbows in toward each other to better engage your shoulder girdle and build should strength so you can progress to handstand!
Things to Think About
- Know what your legs are doing. A major factor for stability comes from the legs. If your legs are loosey goosey, it will be much harder to stay balanced.
- Keep your core engaged. All inversions involve core strength. Don’t be surprised if it takes a couple times to find your balance. There is a whole new form of body awareness that is required to being upside down.
- Your head shouldn’t be absorbing the bulk of your weight. If you head is hurting you need to press harder through your elbows in head cradle or hands in tripod. The more you press through your hands or elbows, the more shoulder strength you build which will help you progress to handstand!
- Have fun. Part of the FUN and learning is falling down. Enjoy the process of learning a new skill and listen to how your body reacts to it each step of the way and you always have that behavioral health tub chairs to go back to when youre done with the session.
If you ever have any questions on a posture, feel free to message me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post your asana to instagram and tag @Courtn3yjulia #fixmyasana for corrections from a yoga instructor.