Some poses and feats of athletic skill serve as benchmarks — goals that confirm a certain level of technique and fitness. One such pose is the headstand. Correctly and safely performing a headstand, also known as Sirsasana, requires a tremendous amount of strength. So practice and preparation are crucial.
Headstands have some surprising benefits, such as improved energy and focus. There are several poses you can practice to ready yourself for the challenge. Using the handy information in this guide, you too can learn how to do a headstand!
Benefits of Headstands
When you perform a headstand, you’re inverting the typical blood flow direction in your body. Rather than flowing downward toward your toes, your blood will obey gravity’s pull and begin flowing toward your brain.
While this can prove to be mildly uncomfortable at first, repetitious practice will result in conditioning. Once you are conditioned to the feeling of being upside down, you will experience far less discomfort.
The benefits of yoga headstands are many. Due to the increased blood flow to the brain, participants can expect improved focus and memory, a boost of energy, and mild stress-relief.
Improved digestion, healthier eyes, and stronger muscles are additional benefits that should not be ignored. The sense of pride at being able to accomplish a proper headstand is another essential benefit!
Now that you’re aware of the benefits, you may be wondering how to prepare for a headstand.
The Best Poses to Practise
Here are the nine best poses to add to your yoga practice when preparing for a headstand!
1. Downward Facing Dog
The Downward Facing Dog position is famous — and for a good reason. It is one of the overall most beneficial poses for building core strength that any yoga enthusiast can master.
To perform Downward Facing Dog, begin on all fours. Ensure that your knees are directly beneath your hips and that your palms are slightly above your shoulders. Lift upwards from the buttocks, elongating the spine toward the tailbone.
Straighten your arms to help support your weight. Stretch your heels down toward the floor, straightening your knees. Hold the position for as long as you can.
The benefits of Downward Facing Dog include strengthened hands, shoulders, and calves, improved digestion, and headache relief. This pose can also help with menstrual cramps!
However, anyone suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome should consult their physician before attempting this pose. The same is true of women in late-stage pregnancy.
2. Snake Pose
The Snake Pose is an excellent choice for anyone hoping to gain core and upper body strength. As with the previous pose, those who are pregnant or who have carpal tunnel syndrome should refrain from attempting this position.
Begin by lying face down on your mat. Your forehead should touch the mat. Relax and practice your breathing. Slowly bring your hands together behind you. Hold them together, just around your buttocks.
Press your feet and ankles together, pressing them down against the mat. Tighten your thighs and lift your knees slightly. Imagine that you are turning your legs into a single, connected mermaid tail.
Take a deep breath before lifting your torso from the mat. Push your energy outward through your chest, and you continue to practice your breathing. Hold this pose for at least thirty seconds, preferably longer.
This position will open your lungs, strengthen your back, arms, and shoulders, and increase overall flexibility!
3. Standing Forward Fold
The Standing Forward Fold is a real test of flexibility. If you cannot perform this pose, don’t give up — but do not over-exert yourself! Consistent practice will improve flexibility over time. You may not master this one immediately, but with a little patience, you’re bound to become adept at it.
As with many standing poses, this one begins in Tadasana. If possible, you must then bend forward without bending your knees, bringing your palms to the floor or your ankles.
If you cannot hold onto your legs or ankles, cross your arms and hold onto your elbows as you maintain your downward-facing pose. The key to the Standard Forward Fold is maintaining straight, strong legs while improving hip and torso flexibility.
Those suffering from recent or chronic back pain should not attempt this position, as it may complicate pre-existing injuries.
4. High Plank
The High Plank is quite like the Plank Pose, with a few alterations. Practicing this pose can add to your core strength including strengthening the arms, wrists, and abs. Merely begin in plank pose and then push yourself upwards from the arms.
Maintain the highest possible distance between your chest and the mat while you maintain this pose. It’s recommended that you first master the original Plank Pose before attempting the High Plank.
5. Tree Pose
The Tree Pose improves balance, making it an essential practice pose. It can also help strengthen the legs, and because headstands are a full-body workout, it’s crucial to involve every area when preparing.
Begin in Tadasana. Transition into Prayer Pose. Slowly lift one leg, bending it at the knee and rotating it so that it is parallel to your hips. Place your foot on the inside of your thigh, very close to your pelvis.
Ground yourself. Maintain a Prayer Pose position with your hands until you feel entirely steady. When you are ready, raise your hands in Upward Salute. Feel the stretch in your spine and arms. Return to Prayer Pose while maintaining the balance.
6. Boat Pose
For a full core workout, look no further than the Boat Pose. This pose works out your arms, legs, and abs while improving your balance. In terms of maximizing necessary strengths and skills, the Boat Pose might be the most useful for those hoping to master Sirsasana.
To begin, sit on your mat with both legs stretched out straight before you. Place your arms beside you, with your fingertips pointed toward your toes. Slowly, gently, lean backward. It should be a slight motion.
Bending your knees, lift your legs from the floor. Raise your arms outward toward your legs, balancing on your tailbone. Extend your legs upwards, straightening them while maintaining that balance. Your arms should act as anchors as you hold the position.
7. Dolphin Pose
The Dolphin Pose is very similar to the Downward Facing Dog, but it is a bit more challenging. Like the Standing Forward Fold, it may take you multiple tries to get this pose just right. Listening to your body is incredibly important. Do not push yourself too hard!
Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Lower your forearms to the ground and clasp your hands together above or in front of your head. Try not to let your heels leave the ground!
8. L-Shaped Handstand
Performing an L-Shaped Handstand is a great way to prepare for a headstand. It can build muscle in the arms and legs and helps to condition the body to be upside-down.
Lie down on the floor with your feet facing the wall. Ensure that your feet are close enough to touch the wall. Press your palms against the ground, at your hips. Lift upwards, walking your feet up the wall.
Continue until your arms are entirely straightened below you, and your legs are perfectly level.
9. Against-The-Wall Headstand
A little support goes a long way. Before attempting a full-on headstand, you may want to consider trying an Against-The-Wall Headstand.
Get on all fours, facing a strong and sturdy wall. Assume the Dolphin Pose. Walk your feet as close your head as you can while keeping your spine straight and vertical.
Gently lift your toes upwards, letting your arms support your weight. Allow your toes to rest against the wall. Congratulations! You are almost ready to try a headstand!
How to Do a Yoga Headstand
Before attempting a complete headstand, you must perform a warm-up routine. This routine can consist of any poses, but it’s recommended that you run through the poses listed above.
If you feel comfortable and confident performing the nine preparatory poses, then you are ready to attempt a headstand.
To begin, assume the Dolphin Pose. Then move your elbows and arms close to your head for support (your elbows should be approximately shoulder-width apart). When you are stable, push down onto your arms and walk your feet as close to your buttocks as you possibly can.
Slowly lift each leg in a bent position so that your heels can rest on your bottom. This is known as the Egg Pose. If you begin to feel wobbly or you experience any pain during this stage, carefully lower your legs and body to the ground. You may need more practice!
But if you feel confident, slowly lift your feet and legs toward the sky. Using your arms as anchors, stretch upright, and attempt to hold the position as long as possible.
When you begin to feel tired, lower your legs to the floor and relax your body, assuming a face-down Corpse Pose.
Once you have completed a headstand, you should congratulate yourself. Not only will you have achieved your goal, but you will also have reached a new height of personal fitness. That’s certainly something to cheer about!
You Can Do It!
No matter your current fitness level or understanding of yoga, you can perform a strong and impressive yoga headstand. The benefits of headstands are both numerous and varied, but the result is a better body, a better mind, and a more excellent feeling of self-worth.
Besides, you’re bound to learn a lot about yoga while you practice! While it may take you several weeks — or even months — to master the nine essential pre-headstand poses, doing so will strengthen your body.
A strong core, upper body, and lower body are necessary to complete yoga headstands. Be patient with yourself. Keep at your goals. If you pace yourself and continue to try, you are sure to succeed.
Before long, you’ll see the world from a whole new perspective — upside down.