HOW TO DO HEADSTAND
Say it like this: sheer-SHAH-sahn-ah
Sometimes known as Sirsasana, this is often referred to as the King of all the asanas (poses)
In a supported headstand (Salamba Sirasana) the body is completely inverted, supported and held upright by the forearms with the crown of the head resting lightly on the floor.
As this is an advanced pose, a range of other poses should be used to build upper body strength and to develop the balance needed to practise Sirsasana.
There are a multitude of benefits associated with all inversion poses. Obviously if you are standing on your head, this will alter your perspective completely. This pose provides a full upper and mid body workout that will strengthen your arms, shoulders and core.
Headstand also stimulates digestion and reduces stress and even mild depression by its calming effect on the brain and is therapeutic for asthma, sinusitis, insomnia and some say is beneficial for infertility and hair loss!
PREPARATORY POSES FOR SHIRSHASANA
A range of poses should be practised to build upper body strength and develop balance preparatory to practising Headstand pose.
Amongst useful semi inversions are Standing Forward Bend which opens up the spine and hamstrings.
Forearm Plank builds the arm and core strength that you will need. The Dolphin Pose is an excellent pose to prepare because as well as developing arm and core strength, it also opens up the shoulders.
When you feel ready you can go into a preparatory Headstand Push.
To do this, keep your elbows shoulder width apart and form your hands into a basket shape resting them on the ground. Be sure to keep your little fingers touching the ground. Now put your head on the ground, pushing it lightly into the hands. Try to imagine you are holding a tennis ball between your palms and place the crown of your head at the base of the palms where your wrist creases.
Tuck your toes in and lift your hips and breathe for five deep breaths until you are comfortable and ready for the next step.
Once you feel fully prepared, walk your feet in towards and as close to the elbows as possible and one at a time lift your heels towards your bottom which will form your body into an egg shape. Remain here for five deep breaths or until you are quite comfortable.
When you feel ready and stable, begin to reach your feet straight up and over the shoulders and hips until your legs are long and reaching for the ceiling. The majority of your weight should be on your forearms and not your head. Flex and point your toes, breathe calmly and slowly, enjoying the change in perspective to an upside down world!
If you are not confident enough to practise headstand in the centre of the room, begin by using the wall as support.
To do this go on to all fours with forearms on the mat and head in the same position described above and with toes tucked under. Your head and arms ought to be approximately 5 inches from the wall. Walk your feet in as far as you can, your hips should be over your shoulders.
Press firmly into your forearms and outer wrists and engage your core.
Slowly lift your knees up into your armpits, letting your lower back come to the wall. Press into your elbows and begin walking your legs up the wall until they are straight.
Hold the pose for 1 to 5 minutes.
To come out of the pose, slowly bring your knees back into your chest, lowering your feet to the floor. To recover, rest in child’s pose.
Contraindications for this pose include osteoporosis, hypertension, glaucoma, detached retina, cervical injury, pregnancy or menstruation. Learn how to do this from an experienced teacher and at first don’t practise it without supervision as the neck will be vulnerable.