When is the last time you were upside down? Probably as a child, but headstands and handstands are popular poses in a yoga studio as the benefits of inversion therapy are many. Headstands relieve stress, reverse gravity, engage your core muscles, and jumpstarts your lymphatic system.
Headstands can be intimidating if you’ve never done one or it’s been since childhood. A proper headstand requires that you build strength and flexibility in your shoulders and core.
Getting Into Your Headstand:
- Start from a kneeling position.
- Interlace your fingers behind your head and your elbows away from your ears. Your elbows will act as training wheels and provide additional support and stability.
- From the kneeling position, place your head and shoulders down on the floor and straighten your legs into a “pike” position, similar to a dolphin pose. Your head and elbows on the mat and legs straight behind your forcing your butt towards the sky.
- Walk your feet toward your head and shoulders.
- Move into the headstand by either a.) Lifting one leg and then the other, or b.) curling into a ball and then straightening once your feet are above your head. Either approach should be executed by shoulders and core muscles until you reach the full vertical position.
- Use a wall. If you are new to headstands and are unsteady while upside down, plant your head and shoulders near a wall and use it as support. By placing your clasped hands behind your head and then placing your hands near the baseboard, you will be in the best location for the wall to support you.
Holding Your Headstand
Always maintain strict alignment and keep your neck in line with your spine. To check, try to carry on a conversation, you should be able to speak while in a handstand. Build your endurance, you won’t be able to hold your first headstand for more than 30-60 seconds. Increase your headstand time by 15-30 seconds each time until you reach 5 minutes.
Should You Do Headstands?
If you have had a head, neck or spinal cord injury in the past, you should not perform headstands as weight is placed on those structures. If you suffer from hypertension or high blood pressure you should not perform exercises or poses with your head below the waist as it increases the pressure in your head and may be dangerous. If you feel pressure behind your eyes or any pain in your neck, stop your headstand and return to the upright position.