How to do a Headstand for Beginners
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The headstand has popularly been known as the ‘King of all asanas’. It is an energizing inversion when practiced regularly builds strength in the upper body and core. Practicing headstand help in improving the blood flow and reducing the pressure in the abdominal cavity, hips, and legs, relieving them of the constant physical stressors they undergo due to the upright position of the body. The reversed force of gravity on the body helps in reversing the sagging of skin and organs. It also helps keep the nervous system active and young as this is an unusual body position for the nervous system to handle. Here is an article on Headstand for you to know everything about it!
Sometimes all we need in life is a change in perspective a different way of looking at things and learning to do the headstand is the best way of doing it. My name is Vishnu dev and I welcome you to Shvasa.com in this video I will be sharing a step-by-step approach on how to eventually build up the strength to do the headstand, how to sustain it, and how to gracefully get in and out of the asana. Before we move ahead if you have not already subscribed to our channel, then please do.
The first time I saw somebody do the headstand I was inspired to do it but it took me some time and finding a systematic approach in order to finally achieve the headstand. In this video, what I am going to share with you are those systematic approaches to eventually achieve the headstand. In order to do a proper headstand, you need enough upper body strength, flexibility, core strength, and hip flexibility.
The first posture that we are going to work on, is working on upper body strength, this is called a dolphin push-up. Let's do it together, we will start from Vajrasana, sitting on our heels. Start by measuring your elbows wrap your fingers around the elbow and this gives you the measurement of your elbows. Hold them there and slowly place them down wherever it's going let the elbows rest, separate the hands, and interlock your fingers. Feel free to release the last two fingers if it's bothering you, now this forms a nice triangle, a tripod for our stance keeping the hands as it is, slowly lifts your knees off the mat.
Now you might notice this itself is a very challenging posture so feel free to make small adjustments only to your legs. Feel free to walk back slightly if that increases your comfort and hold. If you feel like this is too easy come a little more forward find your sweet spot and stay.
Once you're done with 10 breaths, slowly bring your knees down, sit on your heels, relax your hands place the forehead down, and relax in child's pose.
Once your breath is back to normal, let's move on to the next drill where we are going to do a dynamic movement working on the upper body strength, it's the same dolphin push-up measuring the elbows placing them down, release your hands, interlock your fingers and slowly lift your knees off the mat. now once again choose the leg position, for me this is okay but if this is too challenging for you you can walk a little more back as much as you need to, and let's do this practice together.
As you exhale, slowly bring the chin outside the hands, if you can touch the chin to the mat, and as you inhale look towards the back. This is one, let's do four more, exhale bring the chin outside touch if you can, inhale look back; two, exhale forward inhale back, exhale forward, inhale back. One last time, exhale forward inhale back, slowly bring your knees down, point the toes back, sit on your heels. Relax the hands and your forehead, get into child's pose. Whenever your heart rate goes up, give enough time for yourself to breathe and bring your heart rate down, take as many deep breaths as you need and whenever you're ready slowly come back up.
If you've taken up the challenge, fantastic. The drill that we just did works on the upper body strength. Now let's do a stretch that helps us to work on the upper body flexibility, this is called a puppy stretch, and let's do this together. You can also use this as a cool-down practice at the same time working on your upper flexibility. Starting from cat-cow, bring your knees just below your hips. Hips and knees in one line and keeping your hips as it is, slowly start walking your hands towards the front sliding or extending the hands towards the front slowly bringing your chest and your chin down, and if you can slowly lower your body down and touch the chin down. Stay here for at least five breaths and slowly come back.
Next, let's look at hip flexibility in order to achieve the headstand which we are going to do by downward-facing dog. Place your palms just one foot away from the front of the mat, spread your fingers as widely as you can, creating maximum distance between all your fingers, rest down on all the mounts of your palms, once you have a firm grip with your hands, tuck your toes in and slowly lift your knees off the mat. Now for some of you the heels might not reach down but that's absolutely fine. But put that effort to press the heels down, even if it means you have lifted them up that's fine, but put that effort to press the heels down. Take a moment to look at your palms make sure you have spread your fingers and also look at the eye of your elbows and turn them towards each other. That means internally rotating the forearms to make the eyeballs, the eyes of your elbows face each other.
Once you've achieved this look at your toes and continue pressing your palms to move the chest further towards the thighs. Hold this for five deep breaths, making every inhalation as long as possible and every exhalation as long as possible.
one; inhale deeply, exhale completely putting all of these efforts. Two; inhale pressing the palms, exhale pressing the heels. Three; inhale deeply, exhale completely, chest moving towards the thighs, inhale and exhale. Slowly bring your knees down, point the toes back, sit on your heels, rest your elbows, and relax in child's pose.
Once again give yourself enough time to bring the heart rate down, take as many deep breaths as you need. Whenever you're ready slowly come back. If you do these drills consistently it will help you build the strength and flexibility in order to eventually achieve the headstand. Now I am going to show you and demonstrate a stage-by-stage approach towards how to do the headstand and I want you to watch it carefully. Okay starting with the first stage of placing your foundation- your hands and the head we start off just like how we started off with the dolphin push-up or the dolphin posture by measuring your elbows, when you measure your elbows, that tells you the distance between the elbows. You have to maintain this triangle and once you've made this triangle place the center of the head the crown of the head in between your palms, hands being behind the head, join your head and hands together making them one single unit, like you can't separate them from each other and slowly lift your knees off the mat. Feel free to walk a little more back if this is too challenging for you or if it's too easy walk as much as you can until you come on your tiptoe and very less weight is on the toes. Stay here for at least five deep breaths, once you're done slowly bring your knees down sit on your heels, and relax in child's pose.
So this was the first stage, if you're comfortable here let's move on to the next stage where we are bringing one knee to the chest and alternating between both the knees. The goal is to bring both the knees to the chest. We will start with a single knee and then move on to both the knees. Watch this carefully starting from the same way measuring your elbows, releasing the hands, joining your head and hands together making them one unit lift your knees off the mat tiptoe, and walk as close as you can, coming back to the first stage. Once you're comfortable here, bring one knee, right knee to the chest, and hold. Hold for five counts and then slowly alternate, left knee to the chest, very less weight on the leg which is on the mat slowly come down and relax.
The next stage is the same posture where we are bringing one knee to the chest and then alternating with the other knee and eventually bringing both the knees to the chest. Just watch, same way, measure the elbows release them interlock your fingers join your head and hands together make them one tight unit, lift your knees off the mat, and slowly start tiptoeing. Coming to the first stage once you're here bring your right knee to the chest, very less weight on the left toes, and stay. Bring your knees as close as you can to the chest. Hold it for five, four, three, two, and one. Right knee down, left knee, hold it for the same time and if you're comfortable here, try to lift the other knee also off the mat and slowly go down one leg at a time. Relax in child's pose.
Take as many deep breaths as you need to bring the heart rate down, slowly come back up. Before we move on to the stage three, make sure that you've done enough of the stage one, become really comfortable with it, and you're able to bring both the knees to the chest in the stage two only then we will move on or progress to the stage three.
Just watch me as I do it, we start with the same sequence of measuring the elbows releasing the hands joining your head and hands together now I want you to become aware of the weight that you're giving to your forearms and start giving more weight to the forearms, create more distance between the ears and the shoulders and slowly lift the knees off the mat. Walk as much as you can, coming to the first stage then slowly right knee to the chest, left knee to the chest second stage, if you are comfortable here slowly start tilting your hips coming to stage three, point your knees up towards the ceiling. If you're really comfortable here slowly straighten your legs point your toes up and hold. To come back, follow the same order of folding your knees, tilting from the hips and slowly lowering your knees down, relax in child's pose.
This is how you do the headstand stage by stage and whichever stage you are in, sustain it and slowly progress. Work on the drills so that you can eventually achieve the headstand.
These were the step-by-step approach to eventually achieve the headstand. Few practice tips to do the headstand by yourself are not using the wall. This is from my own experience of having used the wall initially, but it took a very long time for me to do it without the wall so my suggestion would be follow these steps so that you don't use the wall and get the maximum benefits of doing it with your own strength it works on so many levels not just on your physical body but also on your mental strength and confidence.
The ideal time to do your headstand practice would be when your stomach is empty in the morning and make sure you have a good space without furniture, obstructing your asana make sure you have that space and make sure that your eyes are open while you do this practice and you're not distracted by anything else.
This is an asana that requires all of your attention and focus. The important contraindications to keep in mind while practicing the headstand are any issues in the neck or the upper body like spondylitis, any lower back pain or issues with the spine like slip disc or if you're menstruating. Avoid the head stand and wait for the right time and build up your strength in order to do it properly so that you get all the benefits of being in this inverted position. Talking about the benefits of headstand it improves the overall circulation of your blood, it relaxes your abdominal region and your lower body by reversing the effect of gravity, when you are in an inversion the entire weight of your body is on your upper body,ideally on your head so that relaxes your stomach and your lower body and for the same reason it has a anti-aging effect on your body. Continue practicing these drills consistently in order to eventually achieve the head stand it is the same willpower that you use to do these drills that will help you achieve even other things in life, it's not just about the headstand but it's about achieving something that you thought was not possible, if you want more professional guidance join us at Shvasa online live classes to be guided by our yoga teachers.