I love headstands
! I was actually able to come up in to one on my very first attempt in yoga class over 18 years ago. It may be in my genes, I remember my mom doing a headstand in the middle of our dining room one Thanksgiving; or it could be I was a headstanding yogi in a past life. (That being said, it’s taken me years to get in to splits and there are many other postures
that just don’t come naturally at all.)
I know for many students, though, there’s a big fear of going upside down; and headstands freak them out. I want to share a really great way to prepare the body for headstand practice so anyone can feel comfortable coming in to this posture safely and with confidence.
Start with Dophin pose or what I like to call YOGI PUSH-UPS
Come to all fours place your forearms on the floor and interlace your fingers to form a clasped fist. Pressing firmly in to your outer hands and forearms, tuck under your toes and press up in to a downward dog with the lower body. Lift your shoulders up away from your ears and engage your scapula on to your back. Keep your abdominals lifted in and up as you roll out to forearm plank (with the hands as they are) and imagine you can tap your chin in front of your fists. Exhale, back to forearm downdog. Repeat going back and forth 8 to 10 times. You can do these YOGI PUSH-UPS every day to build strength and stamina in the core and shoulder girdle.
Once you feel confident in the little EGG shape, extend your legs straight up to the ceiling coming in to your headstand. Keep pressing the shoulders up away from the ears and the forearms firmly in to the mat. Use your abdominals and legs to steady you up above and be careful not to sink in to your lower back. You can always do this up against a wall just find the lower back on the wall in your egg shape before sliding the legs up it. I prefer doing it in the center of the room, though, because worse case scenario you sommersault out of it and you're getting used to doing it without the training wheels on. If you get too comfortable at the wall, eventually you have to take the training wheels off.
And yes, headstands have benefits!
Headstands are the kings of the yoga practice. They stimulate blood flow to our brains, they can help combat hair loss, they give us energy and help us focus. It's a great time of year to gain mastery of this asana, you can keep your stamina up and combat the darker days of winter. If you are ever feeling blue, turn on some tunes, turn upside down and do a headstand. I swear you'll come up refreshed and ready to take on the world.
Practice Your Egg Shape
If you can hold your egg, you can definitely come in to headstand. It's better not to kick up; but to control the lift with your abdominals,this teaches you how to find that core strength. From Dolphin walk your feet in closer to your hands, loosen you palms so there is a bit of space (as if you're holding a tennis ball between your fists now) and place the crown of your head at the base of your wrists. Keep the shoulder girdle locked in place, keep hollowing out your abs and walk your feet in as close as you can until you can prop your knees in your armpits. Imagine this like crow pose upside down; and use your lower abs to lift your feet off the floor until you're in your EGG.
You can also do this in tripod for a broader base and it might be easier to get in to in the very beginning. Once you get more advanced you can try lifting your legs straight up from the ground relying on your abs.