Headstand, or sirsasana, is one of the easiest of the inversions in yoga. If you ever attended a gymnastics or tumbling class as a child, you probably practiced this pose. However, even though it’s one of the easiest, it’ doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy. Here is an easy, step-by-step guide to help you perfectly execute this pose, no matter what your yoga level is.
Step 1: Place your forearms on the ground and interlace the fingers. Make a little basket and place the top of your head on the floor using your hands as a little support.
Step 2: Engage the core and lift your hips.
Step 3: Walk your feet closer to your elbows and get your hips over your shoulders. If you need to bend your knees to do this, that’s totally fine. If you can’t quite get your hips over your shoulders, continue trying. This may take several sessions, but that’s okay. Just do what you can. Perhaps have someone stand behind you that can help you lift your hips (when I say help, I mean support, not do everything for you). You could even use a wall to help you understand when your hips are over your shoulders.
Step 4: Once your hips are over your shoulders, squeeze your knees into your chest. You could squeeze one knee at a time or both. If you have both knees in, you’re already balancing!!
Step 5: Squeeze your legs up straight. I say “squeeze” because you want to keep your core engaged and squeeze your inner thighs together as you lift.
Yay! You have now fully executed a headstand!
A variation of step 5 would be to lift both of your legs up straight to headstand.
Now that you’re here, you can try doing cool things with your legs.
Now to get down, just lower one leg at a time as gracefully as you can. Keeping your core engaged will help you be a little more graceful and not just fall out of it.
If you start to fall backward, tuck your head and roll. You don’t want to just fall flat, not a fun time and you will knock the air out of your lungs.
Now, I’ll go through the most common issues I see with students trying to execute this pose so you can know what to avoid.
Putting their head on their hands. If you were to do a headstand on your fingers stacked like this, you would break your fingers or at least really bruise them. The top of the head goes on the floor and the hands go BEHIND the head.
Wild kicking. Here’s the thing, I’m all for kicking up to other inversions, but I feel like for headstand, it’s much more effective to just lift your lefts. That being said, if you want to kick, that’s fine but NEVER WILD KICKING. Oh my gosh! If I get kicked in the face one more time from someone kicking in random directions and expecting me to catch their legs . . . . ahhhhh!! I’ve been kicked in the boobs, the face, and on top of the head (I’m really short so this happens more than people may think). While we may sometimes call “kicking up” “donkey kicking”, that doesn’t mean you get to be an a$$.
It just means that you kick with mostly bent legs, so bent in fact that they are closer to your chest. These donkey kicks are to help you get your hips over your shoulders (which we discussed earlier). Instead, when kicking, do it straight legged (or mostly straight legged) and make sure you’re getting your hips over your shoulders.
Not keeping your core engaged. Many poses, not just inversions, require you to keep your core engaged. Without your core, you might be able to find a sweet spot where you just balance on your head, but that usually doesn’t last. The core will also help you stay up, lift up, and kick up (not wild kicking).
Not lifting your hips over your shoulders. I said this in my previous post, but I will say it again: I may be strong, but I cannot lift you from the floor to a full headstand. When I spot you, it’s mostly to help you with the balance part of the inversion, not to shove you into it. Work on getting your hips over your shoulders and I can help you from there.
If you’re having a hard time, don’t give up! It takes some strength and concentration to achieve this pose. The principles you apply with headstand will help you with future inversions. Always remember to rest in a child’s pose after you’re done working on it to neutralize the blood. If you stand up right after doing this, you’ll probably get a headrush, fall over, or maybe pass out.
I hope these tips will help you during your next class. Stay safe, and you can do it!
Thanks for sharing your energy with me today.
PS! If you’re wanting a flow that leads to headstand, I’ve got a video right here 🙂 This one has no music, but there is one that has music. Whatever floats your boat 🙂