Headstands are the yogi dream. We all start out all young, scared, tight muscled, and inflexible. We think "I can't possibly ever do that," until we meet that one teacher that changes our lives and helps us hit that crazy pose! Let me be that teacher. Below, I detail out some of the things that I think about while planning out a headstand class.
~Grounding to Lift ~Shoulder Openers ~Chest, Shoulder, & Core Strength
Grounding to Lift If you don't feel secure and grounded, how can you possibly lift up tall and mighty? Think about grounding to lift as if you were a tree. Big oak trees have deep deep roots that ground them into the earth, which then allows them to grow big and strong! It is the same concept in any kind of balancing posture in yoga. Before we can lift, we must fits ground, especially when we're upside down! We're not used to using our heads as our grounding support, so it's incredibly important to feel that connection to the earth here.
The key to a good forearm headstand is to keep your elbows no wider than shoulder width apart. A great trick to ensure you're keeping that alignment is to make a loop with your strap (or rope, ribbon, scarf, whatever you have laying around the house) and place your arms between the loop. Measure it out to make sure the loop is shoulder width apart and this will help keep those elbows in nice and tight! We have this tendency to open up the elbows to create a bigger base, bigger triangle means more support, right? WRONG! if your elbows are out wide you'll start to rely on the bone structure rather than your muscles which can be really, really bad for you neck and shoulders! Opening the shoulders allows the elbows to stay where they're meant to be, which allows for better muscle strength and usage, which means safe students!
Chest, Shoulder, & Core Strength
This is where you want the bulk of your strength to be coming from. Keeping the chest, shoulder girdle, and upper arms strong and active will keep you from collapsing into your cervical spine. This is the reason we see so many injuries in headstands, too much pressure on the head and neck and not enough muscular strength. If you're throwing your feet in the air to head into headstand, you're cheating yourself. Check me out on Instagram to see how to avoid this "lazying out" method.
Muscle Memory I am going to preface this section with: PLEASE DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. If you don't know what a headstand is supposed to feel like and the muscle engagement necessary to achieve it, how will you ever get there? I can tell you what you're supposed to feel and how to safely head into this pose, but if you're body doesn't know what it's like to be there, it wont always know how to get there. Poses like shoulder stand help the torso and lower body know what to do once your feet are in the air. So, if you checked out my Insta you saw I go from dolphin into an egg shape with my hips over my shoulders. THIS IS THE KEY TO A SAFE FOREARM HEADSTAND! It takes a lot of core strength to achieve this, so I like to throw in lots of egg shapes throughout the practice before heading into this asana. Try adding some one legged plank egg crunches, forearm egg crunches, and squats. This will help the body remember what it feels like to create this egg shape and make it easier to do while upside-down.
Backbody Stretch Finally, if you're hamstrings, shoulders, or back are too tight, it will be nearly impossible to float those feet up there with ease. So make sure you stretch out that back body in order to get that beautiful lookin pose!
Headstands are wonderful inversions and have some pretty cool benefits, too! However, they can be dangerous af. Make sure you've got the strength and flexibility necessary to first get that egg shape and then float the toes. And, finally, please, please, do not practice without the help of a certified and trained instructor. As cool as you may look doing them, you'll look pretty lame if you end up in the hospital or with a permanent back or neck injury. If you're looking for some personalized instruction, which I highly recommend, reach out! <3 And if you try it out make sure you tag me @BlyssedOutYoga with #HeadstandsWithBlyss <3