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Headstand - WHF

 

 

A number-one rule for any yoga position is to have patience, and the signature headstand pose is no exception. Not only is this a physically tricky position to achieve, fear of standing on your head can often be a mental barrier to overcome!

“Standing on our heads can be very frightening and those who attempt headstand should take measures of caution and proceed slowly so they do not injure their necks,” says Monica Rude, senior yoga teacher at Kaya Health Clubs.

It’s important to realise that when performed correctly, the head should hold less than 10 per cent of your body weight. “The trick is to press the length of the forearm into the floor to lift the shoulders up,” Rude says.  While this a complex pose, Rude says with dedication most people can expect to achieve some variation of the pose in a matter of six weeks to a year.

Injury warning: “Anyone with glaucoma or high blood pressure should steer clear from any inverted pose entirely,” Rude advises. “Anyone with a neck, shoulder or spinal injury should not perform headstand.” Those lacking mobility and strength in the shoulders, lats and abdominals will have to put in extra time and effort to prepare these areas of the body to lift their body weight out of the head and neck. 

Benefits: “The inverted position works like anti-gravity on our body and is very therapeutic for the joints as well as the adrenals as these areas are relieved of pressure,” Rude says. “The flushing of the lower limbs can decrease bloating and help with circulation.” When holding this position, blood rushes to the head, bringing fresh oxygen to the skin, leaving you feeling cleansed and energised. The longer the hold, the better. Mentally, headstands provide clarity. “They can help us stay focused and alert for longer,” says Rude. 

 

Headstand six-week challenge

Instructions: Performing a headstand with little yoga experience can be dangerous, and Rude advises practising the 'legs up the wall' pose until you are very confident with the ability to lift weight out of the shoulders. This sequence can be performed regularly to awaken the abdominals, strengthen the shoulders and open the upper body to prepare for headstands.

Week one-two

Anahatasana: From a kneeling position, bring your elbows to the ground and press the palms in toward each other. Extend your arms out in front of you so that the chest drops down to the mat. Keep the knees directly below the hips.

Week three-five

Forearm plank: Take the elbows down and with your palms touching. Use the toes to move the body forward and back. Inhale forward – nose over thumbs and exhale back. This movement mimics the shoulder position of a headstand and strengthens the shoulder and abdominals to support the body in the final position. Work up to 20 forward-and-back movements then hold still for one minute.

Week six

Headstand: Start by kneeling in close to a wall. Lock your hands into a loose, basket-like grip and place the back of the hands against the wall. Tuck the chin into the chest and place the back of your head into your hands. Press into the feet and lift the hips up, as if to come into downward facing dog with the head on the floor. Walk the feet into the elbows or as close as you can get. When you are ready, bend one knee and draw it into the chest, then draw the second knee into the chest. Send both soles of the feet to the wall above the head. Continue lifting out of the forearms to seemingly float the shoulders away from the ears. The legs can extend up the wall when you are confident with the strength in your shoulders and hips.