fbpx
yoga masterclass headstand
BodyYoga

Yoga Masteclass: Headstand

Are you even a yogi if you don’t Insta your headstand practice on a beach? Eh yes, you absolutely are. But despite what it looks like on social media, headstand is a challenging pose. Which is why we’re breaking it down in this month’s yoga masterclass.

Headstand is probably one of the most widely practiced inversions. It is more accessible than handstand for many yogis, because it has a wider foundation to build from, but gives exactly the same benefits as a handstand, including the thrill of flipping your world upside down!

Known as ‘the king of all asana’ it has many benefits. It nourishes the cells of the brain; stimulates circulation; balances the hormones; builds focus and concentration; eases stress, tension and anxiety; flushes toxins out; aids the digestive system and boosts the immune system. With all these benefits it’s no wonder yogis have a certain glow about them. Plus, headstands are also well known for their anti-aging properties. What’s not to like about them?

yoga tips headstand

It’s all about shoulders & core

Proper prep and a well warmed up body is essential before you attempt a headstand. The neck wasn’t built for weight bearing, so strong shoulders and core are needed to assist in lifting some of the pressure off the top of the head. It can also help in your prep work to lengthen out the hamstrings at the back of the legs so you can walk your feet in towards your elbows when you are preparing to come into your headstand.

Strong core engagement will protect your lower lumbar spine from banana back and help you lift up through your shoulders too.

How to lift your legs up

If you find it hard to get both legs up, work with these tips before you progress into full headstand.

  • Set your yoga mat up short end to the wall. From all fours place your elbows down directly under your shoulders and interlace your fingers. Place your knuckles about an inch away from the wall.
  • Place the crown of your head on the ground using the interlaced fingers as a support wall. Lift your knees up and walk your toes in towards your elbows until you find the support of the wall against your back.
  • Press down into your forearms, lengthen up to your shoulders and hug your upper arms in. Lift your right leg up with a bent knee and draw it in to your chest. Squeeze into the back of your knee and reach your toes towards your buttocks.
  • Stack your hips over your shoulders and draw your belly strongly towards your spine. On an exhale, slowly lift your left leg up with a bent knee and reach your toes towards your buttocks.
  • Practice coming up and down with your back supported by the wall until you are comfortable that you can lift without hopping, and you can take some of the weight out of your head with the support of your strong shoulders.

How to come into headstand

When you’re ready to move on to full headstand stay at the wall until you are very comfortable with balancing without the support of the wall.

  • Set your yoga mat up short end to the wall. From all fours place your elbows down directly under your shoulders and interlace your fingers. Place your knuckles about 5 inches from the wall.
  • Place the crown of your head on the ground using the interlaced fingers as a support wall. Lift your knees up and walk your toes in towards your elbows.
  • Press down into your forearms, lengthen up to your shoulders and hug your upper arms in. Lift your right leg up with a bent knee and draw it in to your chest. Squeeze into the back of your knee and reach your toes towards your buttocks.
  • Stack your hips over your shoulders and draw your belly strongly towards your spine. On an exhale, slowly lift your left leg up with a bent knee and reach your toes towards your buttocks.
  • Slowly extend both legs up high using your core as brakes. Hug your outer hips and inner thighs to the midline, press out through the balls of your feet. BREATHE!
  • To come down, slowly bend your knees and lower your feet to the ground. Remember to counterpose your headstand with a few deep breaths in Child Pose.

Top tips

  • If you are not ready to fully weight bear in headstand practice this sequence and follow ‘How to lift your legs’ with single leg lifts until you get used to carrying extra weight in your head and neck.
  • To work on strengthening your core work on lowering your legs from full headstand as slow as you can all the way down to the ground with knees bent. Sounds easy but very hard to hold the legs steady on the descent!
  • If you are working on your headstand take advantage of a well warmed up body and ask your teacher if you can practice just before they guide the class in Savasana.
  • If you are new to headstands practice with the guidance of a yoga teacher before you incorporate them into a home practice.
  • Avoid practicing headstand if you have a back injury, neck injury, shoulder injury, high blood pressure, glaucoma, sinus infection or it’s your time of the month.

Find your flow

If you want to master headstand, it’s important to warm the core and shoulder girdle. Try the flow below before attempting headstand.

yoga tips headstand flow

Ruth Delahunty is a 200hr Yoga Alliance certified teacher and founder of Yogaru.ie, a yoga lifestyle website that promotes a yoga way of living both on and off the mat. For more information visit yogaru.ie.

Read More
Struggling with splits? Check out Ruth’s splits flow 
Tags : yoga