Ready to try the king of all yoga poses? Break it down into manageable steps with this guide
Turn Your Perspective Upside Down
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Headstand is referred to by some as the "king" of all yoga poses due to its multitude of benefits. As with all inversions, headstand flips your perspective and alleviates pressure on the heart because it doesn't have to work as hard as it normally does to get blood to the upper body. It is a full upper- and mid-body workout that strengthens your arms, shoulders, and core. Among many other benefits, headstand is said to stimulate digestion, calm the brain, reduce stress and mild depression, and be therapeutic for sinusitis, asthma, infertility, and insomnia.
All benefits aside, the neck was not meant to be weight-bearing, so if you have any neck injuries, avoid this pose—the injuries you will incur will not be worth it!
If you have a healthy, strong neck, have fun with this step-by-step breakdown and really take it one step at a time—jumping into this one would be dangerous. As with all yoga, don’t forget to breathe, be patient, and have fun. The pose will come to you when you are ready. Enjoy the journey!
Prep Pose: Standing Forward Bend
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Come to a forward fold with feet hip-width apart. Grab opposite elbows, soften knees, and hang like a rag doll to open up spine and hamstrings for at least 5 deep breaths.
Prep Pose: Forearm Plank
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Forearm plank builds the arm and core strength required for headstand.
Begin on hands and knees with forearms shoulder-width apart. Keep elbows there, then clasp hands, tuck toes, lift knees off the ground, and step feet back. Reach through the heels and crown of the head, keeping a long spine. Engage navel to spine and breathe here for at least 5 deep breaths.
Prep Pose: Dolphin
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Dolphin is another good pose to develop the arm and core strength for headstand, as well as open up the shoulders for the pose.
Begin on hands and knees with forearms shoulder-width apart. Keep elbows there, then clasp hands and lift hips high. Drop head and breathe here for at least 5 deep breaths.
Prep Pose: Dolphin Pushup
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From dolphin, reach chin toward thumbs on an inhale. Come almost to a forearm plank but not quite. On an exhale, lift back to dolphin, raising hips back toward the ceiling. Do 10 reps and then rest in child’s pose.
Prep: Opposite Shoulder Reach
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From dolphin pushup, come to knees, release forearms to the ground, and grab opposite elbows to ensure that they're shoulder-width apart, making sure to grab the outside of upper arms.
Prep: Headstand Push
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Keeping elbows shoulder-width apart, gather hands in a basket-type shape and rest them on the ground, making sure that pinkies are touching the ground. Place head on the ground and push lightly into hands. Tuck toes and lift hips for headstand prep. Breathe here for 5 deep breaths or until comfortable to move to the next step.
Prep Pose: Egg Shape
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Walk feet in as close to elbows as possible and then, one at a time, lift heels to butt to form an egg shape. Breath here for at least 5 deep breaths or as long as is comfortable.
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When you feel stable and ready, start to reach feet straight up over shoulders and hips until legs are long. You can point or flex feet. Breathe and enjoy the change of perspective!