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Now that you are feeling safe and stable in your headstands, the next objective is to take your practice away from the wall.  Move into your headstand in the exact same ways you have been consciously controlling the entry at the wall.  (If you are still kicking up and hitting the wall, you are not quite ready for the middle of the room yet.  You’ll likely go to far and land in a backbend or on your back.  Not ideal.)

Core strength is vital in addition to upper body strength and confidence.  Learning how to align the body when it is upside down is a new trick you’ll also have to work with.  Our last article (Headstand Part 2: Getting Upside Down) has a lot of really great alignment tips for you while you learn how to orient the body upside down.  Number 1 thing to remember is breathe! 

There are a couple good options to move into the pose without a wall behind you.

  1. You can tuck your knees up towards your chest and extend the legs from there.
  2. Lift one leg up as high as you can and mindfully bring the second one up from there.
  3. Pike both legs up at the same time, straight and together.
  4. A little variation on piking is to start in a straddle splits and bring the legs up wide and let them come together at the top.

To progress the practice of headstand, start extending the amount of time you are upside down.  You don’t need to set a timer to do this.  Notice instead your breaths.  How many breaths are you able to be in the pose comfortably?

Options for moving into headstand without a wall.

Once you are fully stable in the pose there are more options to explore.  This happens primarily by moving the legs into different shapes.  Scissor the legs, let them move into a straddle, eagle legs (where they wrap up around each other), or butterfly.  Some people even like to put their legs into lotus pose here! 

So many possibilities! 

Lots of options in headstand for the legs to play with!

No matter where you are in your headstand journey, enjoy it! Have some fun getting your head on the earth and flipping your world upside down! 

Counter Poses

Resting after any inversion is an important counter to all the work the body does while upside down.  Childs Pose (Balalasana) is fabulous after any headstand.  Perhaps even rest in Savasana, flat on your back to receive the benefits!

Benefits

Headstand or Śirṣasana, is said to be the King of all yoga postures.  Let’s find out why…

Psychologically, headstand allows us to see things from a new perspective.  Emotionally, it guides the energy of the pelvis (the energy of creation and personal power) toward the heart center, enabling self-exploration and inner growth.  Physically, they stimulate the immune and endocrine systems, thereby invigorating and nourishing the brain and the organs.  When practiced correctly headstand can also release tension in the neck and spine.

Inverted poses flip us upside down, literally turning things on their heads.  Yet, we must find equilibrium and embrace our fear of the unknown.  For the sake of lightness of being and openness of mind, it makes good sense to get upside down on a regular basis.

Turning upside down stimulates the flow of oxygenated blood which assists in nourishment, cell regeneration and waste elimination.  It also increases blood flow to the brain, relieving mental fatigue and promoting clear thinking and good memory.  Inverted poses also relieve tiredness, cleanses and tones the body and soothes aching legs and feet.  Defying gravity’s natural downward pull, inverted postures help to reverse the aging process, toning the skin and soft tissue, and giving a youthful oxygenated glow from the inside out. 

Headstand along with other inverted postures improve lymph and venous circulation.  They work the heart and boost the immune system.  Increased blood supply to the endocrine glands and the throat is the reason why inversions are considered to be hormonal balancers.  As holding a position with a whole new relationship to gravity demands a certain steadiness of body and mind, inversions are calming poses.  They let us see things from a new angle.  They lessen tiredness and develop concentration. 

Your ability to accomplish headstand will improve with practice as your balance, coordination, strength and confidence develops.  You’ll want to be focused to maintain this posture and move in and out of it with ease and grace.  The breath is the key to calmness and endurance in this asana as well as the ability to direct energy in the body for even weight distribution and balance.  Most days you will find yourself coming out of these poses with a wonderful smile on your face.  Enjoy the mood boost and have fun practicing these inverted postures with a youthful, playful attitude toward them.  The more you practice it the more you will discover the limitless potential in your yoga practice and in your life’s journey.

In love of headstand,
Mindy Arbuckle
Founder of Maitri Yoga

There are two other great articles in this headstand series.  Check them out here!