More than half of the time has passed and you are proud of yourself for having lasted this long in the yoga class. And then…the instructor says “time for headstand”. Suddenly you get a mini panic attack. Whether you have tried to do it several times before and can’t stay up there for more than a split second or are too intimidated to even try it – you can read on to understand why headstands aren’t happening for you.
- Fear of falling. This is a very reasonable reason for not even attempting a headstand but how will you know if you can balance upside down or not if you don’t give it a chance? Give it a go against the wall, seek help from a seasoned practitioner or an experienced teacher to help you lift your legs off slowly or just be in the bound headstand prep where your feet never leave the ground. It still is a headstand if you are balancing on the head.
- Your upper body is weak. Although it’s more about focus, balance and core strength but if your upper body is weak, you won’t be able to create a strong base. So work on the biceps, triceps and shoulders. Two words – push ups!
- Your core is weak. Story of my life! When the core is weak, you tend to kick up into headstand and the momentum makes you lose your balance. With a strong core you can slowly lift the legs off the ground making for a more stable pose. Practice boat pose and push ups.
- Your base is unstable. If this is the case it becomes extremely difficult to manage the weight of the rest of the body in the inversion. If it’s the bound headstand, make sure that the heels of your hands are touching the sides of your head and your elbows are a few inches away from your ears. If it’s the tripod headstand your elbows need to be bent at a 90 degree angle.
- You are not aligned. The alignment needs to be perfect with your hips stacked over your shoulders and feet stacked over the hips with your abdomen engaged and torso in one straight line. Ask your Yoga teacher to watch you get into the headstand and teach you proper alignment.
Now that you are aware of the hurdles on the path you should be able to work your way past them.
Headstand or Shirshasana has been referred to as the “king” of all yoga poses and rightly so. If you practice headstand daily for 10 breaths, you can reap several benefits. Here’s a list of five to get you inspired.
- It gives you a face lift by reversing the effects of gravity – giving you that beautiful glowing yoga skin.
- It increases the nutrient and blood flow to the scalp delaying the onset of grey hair.
- It flushes out and detoxifies the pituitary, hypothalamus and adrenal glands regulating the hormonal imbalances in the body and uplifting your mood in the process.
- It results in an improved blood circulation and reduction of undue strain from the heart. When you are hanging upside – down, the de-oxygenated blood is able to flow more easily from extremities to the heart. Also, it almost eliminates the risk of ischemic stroke in the practitioner.
- Any fluid retained in the feet (oedema) is able to drain, reducing the onset of varicose veins.
I recommend learning headstand from a qualified teacher.
Please note that headstands are contraindicative if you have very high blood pressure, neck injuries, eye or ear problems, acid reflux or are menstruating.