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How to Headstand for Complete Beginners

January 25, 2018 | Aya Wellness

It’s contrary to our human nature to purposely turn ourselves upside down, but the benefits for our mind, body and soul are incredible!

A few of the most well-known inversions are headstand, forearm stand, handstand and shoulder stand. Other gentle inversions that are more accessible to all levels include down dog, standing forward fold and legs up the wall.

Like anything else in life, you always have the option to invert or not. It’s a personal preference. You might choose not to invert if you have a certain medical conditions like high blood pressure, a heart condition, neck injuries, recent stroke, detached retina, glaucoma, epilepsy or pregnancy. In yoga, we are always taught to honor our bodies and how we feel on the mat that particular day, so use your discretion accordingly.

A few reasons to invert the body:

  • Inversions reverse your blood flow and improve circulation. Gravity in this position provides the brain with more oxygen and blood, which increases our mental functioning.
  • Inversions increase our immunity and prevent illness.
  • Inversions energize us. There are a lot of heating inversions that get the blood moving to the brain, which gives us physical invigoration as well as mental revitalization.
  • Inversions promote relaxation. Milder inversions calm our nervous system, which activates our parasympathetic nervous system and produces feelings of being balanced and peaceful.
  • Inversions improve our balance.
  • Inversions increase our core strength. They create body balance by developing core strength as well as upper body strength in the shoulders and arms.
  • Inversions build our self confidence. When we first successfully accomplish an inversion, this improves our self esteem, both on and off the mat.
  • Inversions literally give us a new and fresh perspective.
  • Inversions are fun and playful. They reintroduce us to our inner child and remind us to remain light hearted.

Today we’ll learn how to safely and properly execute sirsasana, supported headstand, against the wall.

Headstand instructions:

  1. Position your mat lengthwise against the base of the wall.
  2. Face the wall and find your tabletop position on hands and knees. Rest your forearms to the mat.
  3. With your elbows on the mat, shoulder-width distance apart, clasp your hands together and interlace your fingers to touch. Your fingertips should meet the base of the wall. Extend your thumbs up toward the ceiling. Your hands and elbows should form a triangle shape.
  4. Tuck your chin toward your chest and bring the crown of your head down to the mat. Rest the back of your head in your palms while you rest the very top of your head on the mat.
  5. Lift your knees away from the mat to position your body in an upside down “v” shape.
  6. Walk your feet closer to the wall so your hips start to stack over your shoulders. To modify, bend your knees slightly if your hamstrings are tight.
  7. Keep the core engaged, lift one leg up toward the wall. Lift the other to meet it (you’ve got this!).
  8. Eventually, transition your legs away from the wall a few inches, so the spine is stacked and the body is in correct alignment (hips over shoulders in a straight line).
  9. Don’t forget to breath! Take deep breaths and find stillness and peace in this challenging pose. Take a moment to enjoy this new perspective.
  10. When you are ready to release the headstand, bend your knees and bring both of your legs down slowly.
  11. Rest in child’s pose for a minute to re-acclimatize the blood flow.

Watch the video:

Another way to stabilize the body in headstand is to use the support of two blocks. Align the blocks in a “T-like” formation against the wall. This will help brace the cervical spine.

Which inversion is your favorite to practice? Share in the comments and please feel free to leave any questions as you try this out at home.

This wellness tip is brought to you by Kathryn of Hang Zen Yogis. This content is provided for general informational purposes only. Click here for a full disclaimer.