The Only Four Poses You Need To Nail Your Headstand

Written by Hillary Wright

There are three main components to headstand: strength, balance, and the elimination of fear. Many practitioners lack the upper body strength to properly hold themselves in headstand without placing too much weight on the head, resulting in possible injury to the cervical spine as well as the muscles in the neck and shoulders.

Here are the only four poses that you need to gain the strength you need and nail your headstand.

High Plank (Phalakasana)

From Downward Dog, shift your shoulders over your wrists so that your body is parallel to the floor. Press down through the hands to push the earth away, broadening through the collarbones.

Engage the lower belly by drawing the navel in and up. Draw the crown of your head forward, keeping the head in line with your spine.

Hold for 30 seconds, up to a minute.

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Low Plank (Chaturanga Dandasana)

From a high plank position, lower slowly halfway down and keep the elbows drawn in toward the ribs. You don’t have to come halfway down at first, just enough to create some resistance in the arms. You will most likely feel this in the triceps.

If you become tired, or feel unstable at all, you can do this posture by lowering to your knees. Try to hold for at least one exhale, or even a full breath.

From here either come back up to Plank Pose, or breathe into Upward Facing Dog to counter stretch your abdominals.

Repeat up to 10 more times and be patient with yourself as you build up strength over time.

Dolphin Pose (Makarasana)

Come to a tabletop position and stack your shoulders over your wrists. Lift the hands and set the elbows down where the hands had been. Bring the hands forward and interlace your fingers. Keep the elbows under your shoulders and press down through the forearms.

Tuck your toes under and lift your hips up like you would in Downward Dog. Be sure to keep your head off the floor, and the gaze back toward the knees. Relax your neck. Not only does this pose help strengthen you for your headstand, it also helps prepare the body for inverting.

Hold for 30 seconds, up to a minute.

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Dolphin Plank (Makara Phalakasana)

From Dolphin Pose, press your forearms to the ground. Begin to walk your feet back until your body is parallel to the floor, with your shoulders over your elbows. Draw the navel in and up engaging the core. Keep pressing the forearms into the earth.

Hold for 30 seconds, up to a minute.

Bonus work: Move forward and back from Dolphin to Forearm Plank 10 times: inhaling to Dolphin, exhaling to Forearm Plank.

Try these four poses to create an increase in strength in the arms and shoulders and improve the body’s ability to begin inverting. Challenging inversions, like headstand, take time, so allow the body time to build the strength and eliminate fear. Be present to where you are each day and don’t rush the process.

Gallery courtesy of the author

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