I still vividly remember the first time I walked into a yoga studio and saw my soon to be yoga teacher in a headstand. I remember saying, wow.. I wish I could do that one day!
And a few years on, after hours and hours (..and hours) of practice, I found myself floating up just like my teacher.
But I won’t kid you, headstands do require a lot of core and upper body strength. Knowing the correct alignment is key to ensure you are entering the posture safely, as well as creating stability and control while you are up there. Once the alignment is correct and you have built a strong foundation, it becomes easier to effortless float up to a headstand.
I strongly recommend being under close guidance of a yoga teacher before you attempt to get into headstand. Once you are in headstand, there are still small micro adjustments you need to be aware of to ensure you are not doing any damage to your neck or spine, which can happen over time with the repetitive wrong technique. But this shouldn't stop you from practising the strength work that will lead you to getting into a headstand.
The best postures to practice for headstand pose are Dolphin I, II and III.The video above shows these three postures in sequential order for you to practice at home.
Below are 3 of my top tips for entering Dolphin pose with the correct alignment:
The base of the pose is the most important aspect. Keep it strong and solid. Make sure your forearms are shoulder width apart. You can start to do this by taking a hold of your elbows with both hands, keeping your elbows where they are, while you move the forearms to face forward and interlace the fingers. Scissor your forearms in towards each other to allow a firm grip on the mat. The most common mistake is letting your elbows slowly splay out to either side of the mat, so make sure you are conscious of their alignment when you are in the posture.
Your legs should share the work with the upper body! Keep your heels high over your toes, and your quadriceps firmly activated. When the legs are activated and the shoulders are lifted away from the ears, it becomes easier to find lightness in the posture.
Keep your head off the ground. As this is a strong posture, most people relax the head on the ground and consequently do not have the right muscles properly switched on. Resist the urge to rest the head on the ground, and keep firmly pressing through the forearms, while keeping the shoulders lifted towards your hips to create space.
Practice 5 breaths in Dolphin I, II and III, resting for 5 breaths between each posture. Once you can do this comfortably, try to do all three Dolphin postures without resting in-between.
And lastly, practice, practice, practice. Headstand doesn't happen over night, and patience and persistence are the greatest lessons you can learn from this posture. Keep working towards it, and practice Dolphin pose regularly. It is the posture that holds the key to building the strength to help you reach your goal.
Enjoy your practice.