Headstands are something everyone wants to be able to do at some point. For me this was a real turning point for my practice.
There are a few key things to know before you jump in & get started.
Trying your first Headstand
From the start i would say definitely go to a few yoga classes to strengthen the muscles needed for your headstand. Its not something you would be doing on your first session, if you are i would think twice.
Start getting ready for Headstand with several prep poses. Dolphin Pose is a good pose to build up your upper body strength, and to get used to having weight on your arms. You can come to Dolphin Pose by placing your forearms on the ground, arms shoulder-width apart. Lifting the tail bone up to come to an upside down V shape.
You can interlace the fingers, as you would for a Headstand. Walk your toes closer to the elbows, and try staying here for 6-8 comfortable breaths.
You might practice just this for some time, until it gets comfortable. To take things further, lower your head in between your arms on the ground, and bring the crown of the head to touch the floor. It’s called Headstand, but you are not actually standing on your head, and almost all of the weight should be on your arms.
So keep those shoulders strong and lift them away from the ears.
Gently bunny hop your legs to centre and hold here. This part is key because you want to get the sense of maintaining this form and feeling comfortable and steady before extending the legs.
This is the basic headstand, its important to keep working on form & strengthening your body. Also remember to smile. Don’t let a little tumble knock your confidence, you’ve got this.
Developing & Improving Your Headstand Practice
Core Strength – Forearm Plank is a fantastic pose to improve your headstand. Not only will you build core strength, but you will also stabilise your shoulders. Focus on hugging your front ribs in to your body as you create more space in your lower back. Then, when you go upside down, you will more easily align your pelvis and ribs. You can also strengthen your core in poses like Full Plank and Boat.
Focus On Your Inner Thighs- So often when students invert their bodies, they forget to use their legs. Practice poses like Mountain, Chair and Downward Facing Dog with a block between your legs. Lightly squeeze the block with your inner thighs to strengthen your adductor muscles. When you invert your body, your adductors will help to keep your legs together. By activating your inner thighs, you will lighten the load on your shoulders. Finally, you must engage your inner thigh muscles in order to pike into Headstand.
Breathing – Being mindful and aware of each separate breath in connection to your core will help you get into this position and maintain it. It is common to get anxious and forget the breath and even hold the breath.
Try to practice deep breathing before your Headstand. Make sure that you breathe deeply during each separate part of entering and exiting your Headstand to stay calm and ensure no tension in the neck and shoulders.
Headstand After Care- This is something that is neglected but crucial. Headstands put a lot of your pressure on your head that is inevitable. Transitioning quickly can make you feel lightheaded.
Keep your head low at the end of an inversion – a minimum of 5 breaths if you can. and slowly massage your head onto the mat up and down, round and round! This is also great for stimulating hair growth would you believe.
Hope this helps you feel a little more relaxed in giving this a go. Slow and steady. Love and light, Ella.