Rock Star Yoga Headstand Tutorial
Headstand, or sirsana (Shir-SHA-sa-na) as it is known in Sanskrit, is the rock star pose of yoga.
It appears at the end of every single ashtanga vinyasa class, in most vinyasa and power yoga classes, and really in most yoga classes. This rockstar inversion pose, conquers fear, helps with stability, allows the energy to reverse direction, supports blood flow from feet to head, and puts pressure on the crown chakra, the energy point that allows a connection to the universe, thus helping us transform from a singular state of mind to a universal state of mind. Mastering headstand is the entry ticket to being a rock star yogi.
Some traditions hold the headstand for long periods. Tantra yoga may hold it for seven minutes. Iyengar practitioners hold if for many minutes as well. Even ashtangis, hold it for at least 25 breaths, with 10 more breaths in the half way headstand (ardha sirsana), then return back up to the full pose before lowering down.
Practice with care, and preferably with guidance. Avoid it if you have neck issues, and consult with a doctor if you have spine injuries.
First principle to mastering headstand is learning to place he arms correctly. Make sure the elbows are shoulder width apart, and pressing towards the earth. This will help activate the upper body, help stabilize the pose and reduce pressure on the head and neck.
Second principle is to learn that coming up as well staying steady is all about the placement of the hips. When the hips are over the shoulders it is much easier to stay up. For the initial step of elevating the legs, move the hips as far forward as you can over the shoulders.
Third principle is to use your core. Activate your pelvic floor half way and lift your belly in and up. In yogic terms this means to use your mulabandha and udiyyanabandha.
Now to the actual practice. Lets do it step by step.
Step 1: Place the forearms down, about shoulder width apart and then clasp the hands and place the head between the hands. Top of the head is on the floor. Not too far back (crown), and not too far forward (forehead).
Step 2: Lift the knees off the ground and begin to walk the feet towards the head.
Step 3: Either lift one leg at a time and come up to head stand with knees bent, or lift both legs up with knees bent to a half way position.
Step 4: Lift with straight legs. Remember that you need to move the hips in opposite direction of legs to balance the weight. Until the legs reach hip level, the hips move over the head. Once the hips begin to lift higher than hip level, the hips return back to being straight over the shoulders.
Step 5: Lower down. Again here, the hips will move further over the head – shifting the weight – to allow for a controlled lowering of legs.
Step 6: Take Childs pose to rest.
Here is the video tutorial with the tips and tricks, so you can see it in action: