Benefits Of The Pose:
Like all inversions, this posture offers a long list of physical and mental benefits. Some of the benefits include the relief of stress, strengthening of the spine and upper body, stimulation of the pineal gland, help with insomnia, and perhaps an improvement in digestion. Of course, with such an impressive list of benefits, it’s easy to see why this posture is considered a full body pose with benefits from head to toe.
Inversions, including headstands, may be best known for the simple benefit of getting the heart above the head. When we invert ourselves or go upside down, our blood is given the chance to reverse throughout the body. This blood reversal or rush of blood is beneficial to our organs and especially the brain. When the brain is hit with this fresh blood and oxygen it can help improve our focus and concentration levels.
As mentioned before, this pose can also stimulate the Pineal Gland. This gland located in the center of the brain is a part of the endocrine system. It is also sometimes referred to as the “Third Eye”. The gland produces melatonin, a hormone which modulates our wake and sleep patterns. Naturally, Headstand Pose is thought to be beneficial for the 6th Chakra or Third Eye.
Mentally this posture can also be helpful in overcoming fear. Being upside down can be a very strange and uncomfortable feeling for many people. Practicing inversions can slowly develop comfort with experiencing a new perspective and unusual feelings.
Strengthen The Spine
Strengthen The Upper Body
Stimulate The Pineal Gland
Prep & Follow Up Poses:
It’s common to use simpler inversions to prep for Headstand Pose. Some of these inversions could include Downward Facing Dog Pose, Shoulder Stand Pose, and Standing Forward Bend Pose. Dolphin Pose is also a good pose to build upper body strength in preparation for headstands.
Follow up postures could include Downward Facing Dog Pose, Child’s Pose, or any number of poses which could offer a brief rest after your inversion. It is suggested to stay away from any posture that may strain the neck further after practicing headstands.
Modifications & Cautions:
There are two major variations of this pose, Supported Headstand and Tripod Headstand. The difference between the two poses are hand and arm placement. Supported Headstand is performed with the forearms on the ground and the hands cupped behind the head, like in the photo above. The tripod version is practiced with the palms on the ground to each side of the torso with the hands and head forming three points of contact with the earth in a tripod-like stance.
Many advanced students will also vary their leg position in this pose for added challenge. For example, you may see a headstand with the legs in Lotus position.
Do not practice this pose if you suffer from a back or neck injury.
Headaches, high blood pressure and menstruation are also valid reasons to skip this pose in your practice.
Don’t begin your practice of Headstand if pregnant.
Be aware of wrist and hand injuries if practicing the tripod version of this posture.
Don’t practice this pose early in your class or practice.
If new to this pose, always practice with the help an instructor or friend to spot you if needed.
Never try to jump or bounce into this pose.
Use a wall for support if needed, the corner of a room will be helpful for some students.
Try to practice this pose on an empty stomach.
Lift into the pose slowly using your core strength and lower out of the pose slowly using your core strength.
Don’t allow all your weight to rest on the head and neck, allow the arms and upper body to take a large amount of the pressure.
Try to wipe any excess sweat from your mat, hands and arms to prevent sliding in the pose.
There are many poses that you can transition from into Headstand. We will start in Puppy Pose. These instructions are for Supported Headstand Pose.
Relax in Puppy Pose for a few breaths and focus on your breath.
Staying on your knees, slowly lift your head and place your forearms on the mat.
Make sure your arms are about shoulders width distance apart. You can measure this by placing each hand onto the opposite elbow.
Keep your elbows at this distance during the duration of the pose.
At this point, you can clasp your hands together but keep the elbows in their position.
Your hands and two elbows should form a triangle shape.
If needed, walk the knees forward a little and lean forward slowly to place the head onto the ground with your hands clasp behind the back of the head.
The top of your head should be touching the ground, not your forehead.
Lift your knees and raise onto the balls of your feet. Slowly walk the feet closer to your head.
As your hips rise, keep the back straight not allowing it to round.
Slowly lift just one foot off the ground, when comfortable use your core strength to lift the other foot off the ground.
Engage your core to find balance and allow your weight to be supported by the elbows and arms, not your head and neck.
Keep the knees bent for a few breaths, find your balance, engage the core.
Slowly straighten the legs and extend above your body. Keep your back straight and don’t allow the elbows to move outward.
Hold the pose for a few breaths or longer and then slowly lower the feet back to the mat and move into Child’s Pose.