Here's What You Need to Know to Nail Your Headstand
A bunch of your friends are posting Instas of themselves upside down in parks, at their favorite coffee shops, even in bookstores! Headstands have caught fire over the last few years in the yoga world. Besides being extremely popular, headstands are insanely good for your body. People actually refer to them as the anti-aging pose - plus, you're hardcore toning and strengthening your muscles.
So one question, are you ready to jump on this headstand train and let your toes rise to the clouds? Yes? Perfect! I’ve got you covered. Here are some easy tips on how to see the world upside down.
Make sure you warm up first – take a few simple flows to loosen your muscles. Remember to breath throughout the whole process, because if you hold your breath your face will turn red and you'll probably get a little light headed - not fun, let me tell you.
Begin by interlacing your hands and placing them on the ground. Ground your forearms into your mat (or beach) and try to align your elbows with your shoulders. The crown on your head is going to go down on the mat. To find the crown of your head, you might want to place a book on your head and see where it balances - that way you know what point you are aiming for. This is ultra important because if you are too far back or too far forward on your head it can cause pain and/or injury on your neck and forehead. So make sure you are on the crown of your head!
Once your head in nestled in between your palms, get used to putting your head on the ground and placing some weight on it. When I was first learning, I believed that the wider my elbows the easier it would be. I thought, "A wider angle will distribute the weight more." HUGE YOGA LIE. Keeping your elbows tucked into your center body line will make your base stronger.
Next step, curl your toes under and lift your hips up to the sky. Walk your feet as close as you can to your face. Again, get used to this pose. REMEMBER TO BREATHE! Your hips need to align with your shoulders. As you raise up, your elbows, shoulders, and hips will draw an arrow all the way to your toes.
Ground your arms into the mat. Lift through your shoulders - the weight shouldn't be completely on your head. While engaging your core (BTW, headstands are amazing for your abs!) lift and tuck both legs into your chest – this is called Egg. Once in Egg, hold there for a couple of breaths to work your core, then slowly lift your legs to the sky.
While your legs are in the air, keep your abs strong and point your tones. Imagine yourself lifting up to the heavens. Have some fun, maybe bring your toes and heels together for butterfly or separate your legs into a “V.”
Yay! You did it!
Yes, you can kick one leg up and then the other, but it is more challenging, safer, and better for your body if you go to Egg first then lift up. Egg pose takes a lot of core strength – however, while I was still learning Egg, I would bend one leg, gently kick it up (still bent) and then bring the other leg up which was also bent. This is called Darma headstand: both legs bent in opposite directions.
To come out of the pose, slowly lower your legs down to the mat. I usually do one leg and then the other.
You can practice your headstand with a wall at the beginning. However, I suggest that you don’t practice with the wall for too long because you will become reliant on it. Grab a buddy and make it a bonding experience. Or just learn how to fall – when I practiced alone I would go outside and practice in the grass to ensure a soft landing.
If you practice with a buddy have them stand facing you, then when your head goes down, your back will be facing them. As you walk your feet toward your head, they can guide you until your hips are aligned with your shoulders. If you need a little help they can gently hold the sides of your hips. Or your back can touch their legs as a way for you to know you have walked in enough. Tell them to lean their face to the side if you are kicking into the pose. Once your legs are up, have them put one arm behind your calves and one arm in front of your shins, this creates a little boundary which you can ping pong between as you learn which way your body sways and what you need to tighten or engage.
Have fun practicing!
Check out these GTS babes rocking their head stands!