Headstand

Sirsasana I

June 21, 2016    BY Yoga International

POSE TYPE

Inversion

POSE CATEGORY

Extension

PRONUNCIATION

shear-SHAHS-uh-nuh

Setup and Key Actions

Come onto your forearms and knees, shoulders stacked directly above your elbows. Interlace your hands so that there's enough space between your palms for a small tennis ball to fit. Tuck your bottom pinky in to avoid crushing it, and press the entire pinky sides of your forearms, wrists, and hands into the floor. Lightly place the crown of your head on the floor, and gently press the back of your head against the heels of your hands. With your toes tucked, lift your knees, and walk your feet forward until your hips are stacked directly above your shoulders. Keep your upper body as is. If your elbows splay, or you collapse into your neck and shoulders, back out of the pose. Avoid hopping, or kicking up. You can lift one leg at a time, or bring your knees into your chest and stretch both legs up together.

Hug your legs together, activate your lower belly, and press your forearms and head into the floor as you stretch up through your inner heels. Initially, pressing your head into the floor might seem paradoxical, but the action of "pushing the floor away" actually takes weight out of the head, neck, and shoulders, and creates a sense of lightness in the pose. 

Modifications

Despite the fact that headstand might initially seem more accessible than forearmstand or handstand, it is actually a much riskier pose for your neck. If you're still working on building strength and stability in handstand and forearmstand, or if headstand is contraindicated for you, practice headless headstand instead: 

Set up in a similar manner, on forearms and knees, shoulders stacked over elbows. Interlace your fingers, and either tuck your bottom pinky in (as in headstand), or stretch both pinkies forward so that you can press into the entire pinky side of your forearms, wrists, and hands. From here, tuck your toes under, and press up into dolphin pose. Keep your shoulders stacked over your elbows. Walk your feet forward toward your elbows. (If you find that you’re collapsing into your shoulders, walk your feet back again and stick with dolphin for the time being.) Gaze back toward your legs. Resist your outer forearms in toward each other, and at the same time press your forearms into the floor as though you were pushing it away from you. Your head should remain off the floor at all times. 

From here, lift one of your legs, bend your standing-leg knee, and kick up into a forearm balance. When you arrive in the pose, continue to hug your outer forearms in toward each other and push the floor away. Instead of gazing toward your hands, tuck your chin slightly so that the crown of your head hovers away from the floor.

If you’re practicing at a wall, instead of trying to lift your feet up off the wall one at a time, see if you can lift them off together by pushing the floor away and reaching up through your heels.

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