Moving into Your First Unsupported Headstand

I stepped into my 200h Teacher Training without having attempted a single headstand in my entire life. I was scared and full of certainty that I would never be able to do it. Yet, less than 4 months later, I find myself comfortably holding an unsupported headstand for three minutes and beyond.

Until today, inversions scare me; they intimidated me so badly that I always chose to run away from them – until I was forced to face and conquer them during my 200h Teacher Training. I literally struggled through my initial Headstand “journey”. I don’t mean that I have absolutely zero obstacles today, but I’ve broken through barriers after barriers to reach where I am today. Because this Asana is arguably the one Asana that I had to fight against my own internal demons to get there, it holds an extremely significant place in my heart. Today, I’m going to share how to move into your first unsupported Headstand.

Unless you are a super fearless person with zero self-doubt, we generally have to do two types of preparatory work – Physical and Mental.

Physical Preparation:

 

  1. Shoulder opening

Extended puppy

puppy

Dolphin

 dolphin

 

2. Core and Hip Flexors strengthening

 

Phalakasana

plank

leg raise

 leg raise

 

3. Upper body strengthening

 

Chaturanga Dandasana

chaturanga

Downward dog push up to work on shoulders

 downward-dog-push-up-photo

 

4. Glutes and Adductor strengthening

 

Bridge

bridge

Wheel, (focus on squeezing glutes and knees)

 wheel

Mental Preparation:

 Trust me, you’ll be scared. You’ll be so scared the moment you turn away from the wall or the moment your human support leaves you. That’s perfectly normal. But the fact is that you are able to deal with that fear. This quiet confidence is so important when it comes to difficult poses. Take deep breaths, calm your mind, remind yourself that it doesn’t matter what the outcome is. It doesn’t matter if you manage to stay in your Headstand or if you can’t even get halfway up. Just be present and enjoy your Headstand practice.

 

 More tips

1. Experiment by making slight adjustments 

I used to think that I need to have the top of my head on the mat. However, after more practice, I slowly noticed that if I were to lift my chin slightly and place the front part of my head on the mat, I’m able to balance much more easily.

As our bodies are all unique, different individuals would probably find different “sweet spots”. Thus it would be useful to experiment and play around with head and arm placement, body alignment etc.

 

2. Always calm  your heart and mind

 Sometimes I panic because I suddenly realize that I’m holding my Headstand for much longer than I expected. That’s when my heart starts to pump faster and my body starts to wobble.

 Always bring your focus back to a single point, clear your mind and allow your body to rest in your Headstand.

 

The feeling of getting up into your first unsupported headstand is exhilarating, so don’t you give up on trying. Although our yoga journey should not be built on performing complicated Asanas, breaking through Asanas that we once beyond you also brings with it magical spiritual elements – the self-doubt, the fear and the ability to find comfort in discomfort.

 Moreover, inversions allow you to explore the world from a different perspective.

 

~ Vera, 200h Weekend

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