Many people mistake headstand as being one of the “easiest” inversions to master, but to properly and safely get into (and stay!) in a headstand can be much more challenging than even a handstand!
Here are some of the most common mistakes I see my students experience in handstand, and how to fix them:
1. Head placement
Make sure you measure the placement of your head. Bring the base of your palm at eyebrow centre and bring your head onto the the mat at the space where your middle finger lands on the head. Press your elbows down to keep your shoulders away from ears as your legs float up. If your shoulders come to close to your ears, your back will round, causing you to roll over backwards.
2. Hopping up or donkey-kicking
If you are still working on this entering this pose, never hop up. Take your time and firm up your base by pressing your elbows down into the mat, melting your shoulder away from ears, engaging your lower abs and walking your feet as close as you can to your elbows. When you can float your legs up, only then are you ready. Otherwise, be patient and keep practising on strengthening your base and your core.
Kicking up to a headstand creates a lot of instability in your base. Instead of kicking up, slowly lift one leg at a time. If you have to kick or hop up to a headstand, this simply means your base is not solid enough. A great pose to work on your base is by practising dolphin pose.
3. Loading your neck
Although it’s called a “headstand”, don’t forget that both your forearms and shoulders are there to share the weight – use them wisely and don’t overload your neck to avoid injury! If you are new to headstand, you are still working on building neck strength, so putting 100% body weight onto that fragile and crucial part of the body can be incredibly dangerous. Spread the weight! You’ll know if you’re not using your arms and shoulders if you feel a lot of stress in the neck when you are in the pose.
4. Elbow position
Avoid splaying the elbows out — keep them hugging in! Remember that your elbows only have to be as wide as your shoulders. This creates a steady, strong base.
5. Holding your breath
It’s very natural for a headstand novice to hold their breath while in the pose, but like in every yoga posture, this restricts energy flow, destabilises your centre of gravity and can make you feel light-headed. It can even lead to the popping of small blood vessels in the face, causing red dots to appear. Keep your breath natural & smooth, using either ujjayi breath or your natural breath — whatever is most comfortable for you.
With love and light,
Greta | Yogaia Teacher
Ready to join us on the mat?
Try us now to access free yoga classes. Anytime, anywhere.