Head Stand practice


Hi! Here is a brief written tutorial on how to do a modified head-stand, what we will call a half headstand. This photo is from around 2015, I think? I remember the days when I was obsessed with my headstand practice- around 2001, 2002. Any chance I got, I was against a wall upside down. My boyfriend at the time was very confused but he took it in stride. Learning poses like headstand in the center of the room, no wall, no spot- it takes practice. LOTS OF PRACTICE. Headstand draws on the strength of your core to support your legs over your head without undue pressure on your neck or head. If you are not yet fully in your headstand, how about a half-headstand? You can use the wall to support your back until you feel safe and stable.

While it is not a beginner pose, you can practice at your level:

From Downward Dog, place your forearms down and interlace your fingers. This will be the "house" for your head. Walk your feet forward as far as they will go. Place the crown of your head in between your forearms- they should be hugging your head on each side. Get to your tip-toes and see if you can use your core to bring your knees into your chest, so that your bum is to the ceiling and your feet leave the floor. You want to gain the awareness of your spine- is it rounded, or fully lengthened? You want a long spine with your knees tucked towards your chest. Once you are stable in this position, and can breathe 5 deep breaths through your nose, you may want to try straightening your knees- or not! That can feel very scary. Regardless, the actual headstand is the cherry on top- the practice of knowing where your body is in space, the patience to try something again and again, the discipline to return to a challenge repeatedly, the presence to integrate mind, body and breath- that is your yoga! At any point in this process, stop and breathe. Stay where you need to stay for as long as it takes for you to feel safe and stable for 5 breaths.

Eventually this will grow into a full headstand. Once in a full headstand, try to feel as though minimal weight is on your actual head. You want to feel as though you could slip a sheet of paper under your head, or slide a quarter under your head. This is because your shoulders, forearms and core muscles are bearing the weight of your body, rather than your neck and head. This is why my classes have so many planks and chatarangas- we need that upper body strength, that core strength, to support us in the more challenging inverted poses. Can you see the forearm plank in the headstand? True, my head is on the floor rather than being upright, but think about it- legs together, core muscles working, fingers together, forearms on the floor- all things are related in yoga.

IThere is rarely a pose that does not compliment another pose. All of this is called incremental progression. This, just like any other yoga pose, is a spiritual journey because we are working on ourselves. We are working on our willingness to try hard things, to approach our fears, to breathe through our doubts, and to see the beauty in the path we take. It is our own inner work that will help us remain steady and stable for minutes at a time while upside down on our heads. There is no rush, no race, no deadline. Enjoy and let me know how it goes.

Ps online yoga is a gift from the computer gods! Take an online class today- free options as well as 30 min classes on my website.