How to do a head stand

The headstand (Sirasasana in Sanskrit) is definitely my favourite yoga posture to practice. After getting over the initial fear of being inverted it becomes a fun posture to practice.

I find it very helpful on them days when I’m feeling sluggish. I perform the movement for 30-60 seconds and the increase in blood flow to my brain gives me a burst of fresh energy.

Along with being enjoyable to do it also offers a host of therapeutic benefits. It is known as the “king of asanas” because of this.

Benefits of regular practice

Long periods of standing upright can make circulation sluggish. The Headstand gives a much deserved rest to the heart and circulatory system by inverting the body and allowing the blood to circulate with much less effort. Gravity helps to return the blood to the heart.

Regular practice of headstands helps to slow resting heart rate and improve circulation.

This provides the brain, spinal cord and sympathetic nervous system with an increased flow of blood rich in nutrients.

Inverting the body enhances deep breathing, bringing increased oxygen supply to the brain.

This rich oxygen supply to the brain improves concentration and mental focus combatting brain fog.

It strengthens the core muscles as these are worked when moving your legs from the ground to directly overhead.

Persons suffering from varicose veins will feel relief as stagnant blood drains from the lower extremities.

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It can also help with constipation.

It relieves pressure from the lower back. When the body is inverted, the cervical and thoracic (upper) parts of the back take more pressure; the lumbar and sacral areas (lower back) are relieved of much of their usual burden.

Quite the list of benefits don’t you think?

How to perform the headstand

STEP 1 – ARMS & HANDS

interlock fingers

measure elbows

Measure the elbows, by grabbing hold of the upper arms. Touch your elbows with the opposite hands. Lean forward and lay your forearms on the ground, directly beneath your shoulders. Let go of your elbows, and clasp your hands together.

STEP 2 – HEAD DOWN

 

 

With your arms in the tripod position, above right, lower your head so that the crown of the head touches the mat and the back of it is cradled in your hands. Take every step slowly.

STEP 3 – ON YOUR TOES

From the crouched position with your head resting in your hands, raise the knees and push the hips up above the head. Keeping your legs straight, stretch up high on your toes.

STEP 4 – HALF HEADSTAND

half headstand

Now bend the knees, bringing them to the chest. Arch your back slightly, as done when standing up (this will allow to balance the body). Do not proceed unless you can hold this position for a minimum of 30 seconds without feeling any discomfort. Do not kick up.

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STEP 5 – KNEES UP

Knees up

With the knees still bent, start to straighten the hips. Slowly and carefully, raise the knees until they are pointing straight up toward the ceiling. Do not go all the way up. (Remaining in this asana

will allow you to build your core muscles and arm strength required to go all the way up).

STEP 6 – ALL THE WAY UP

full headstand

Straighten the knees and lift the feet up toward the ceiling so the thighs come into alignment with the rest of the body. Support the weight by bracing the elbows against the ground. Consciously place the weight on the elbows again and again. At first, hold  for 30 seconds. If you wish, you can close your eyes and concentrate on the point between the eyebrows.

As you become more skilled at adopting this pose, gradually increase the time to 3-5 minutes (Slow down your breathing when holding the pose for longer periods of time). Always come down before you start to feel tired. If your neck is tense, come down into child’s pose. Leave the pose slowly and under control (see below).

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 Coming out of the headstand

Make sure you leave this Asana as carefully as you entered it.

Bend your knees and lower them. Straighten your legs. Bring your feet to the ground, and then lower your knees. Lower your body so that your buttocks rest on your heels and come into child’s pose. Do not lift your head up straight away. Rest for at least a minute. Relax in Savasana before continuing.

 Common Mistakes  

Moving the head or arms after step 1. Not keeping the body vertical, inclining backwards, forwards or sideways. Tension in the face, neck, arms, shoulders and back.

The weight of the body is not evenly distributed on the arms; very little weight should be on the head. Do not balance on the forehead.

The fingers are too loose. Legs are bent and apart. Shoulders are hunched. Elbows are too far apart.

People who should avoid the headstand:

  • People with high blood pressure
  • Women more than 4 months pregnant
  • If you have glaucoma or similar eye problems
  • If you recently suffered whiplash or similar injuries.

Make sure and use a wall initially when practicing. Let me know how you get on in the comments below.

 

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