As most of you know, I have a serious addiction to being upside-down. Headstands, handstands, anything having to do with being on my hands! Inversions are very tricky – they require a lot of confidence and self-trust to go upside down – but once you get past this hurdle & believe in yourself, being upside down starts to get a little easier.
As I am prepping for putting on a local workshop here in Columbus as part of my Yoga Teacher Training, I have been thinking about the best way to help others understand how to get into inversions. A lot of research, practicing on friends, and personal practice has led me here! Below is a step-by-step tutorial on how to prep for a headstand – give it a try and let me know how it goes!
Step 1: Prepare by coming to your hands & knees, preferably on a thick yoga mat or carpet. I recommend coming close to a wall in front of you (maybe a few inches from your hands) and putting some couch cushions around if you are afraid of falling. Another tip: place a cushion under your head if you need a little more padding!
Step 2: Bend your arms and place the center top of your head on the ground (or pillow). Drag your feet as close to your hands as possible – you can keep your legs straight or bend them – trying to get your hips over top of your head as much as you can. If you are close to a wall, you can try to get your back/butt up against the wall.
Step 3: Begin to bring your knee cap to the underside of your arms, halfway between your elbow and armpit. Your arms are creating a shelf for your knees! All the while, think about pushing your hands away from the ground to take some pressure off of your head. You want to protect your neck as much as possible, so always think about pushing up to the sky using your hands and shoulders, like you are trying to push up into a handstand. Yes, it is hard, and yes, it requires strength. Baby steps!! You can do it!
Step 4: Start to lift 1 leg off of your knee. You can just practice this if you are too nervous to lift both – this requires some core strength, so be patient with yourself! Again, think about stacking those hips up over your head – this is mainly about alignment, so body awareness goes a long way. You do use a little ab strength here, but that will come over time!
Step 5: We have lift off! lift both knees off your arms, using your core to lift your legs up. If you are afraid of falling, this is where a spotter or the wall comes in handy! Really squeeze your ab muscles here – being in control of your core here helps with balance and control everywhere else. Your hips are like a hinge, lifting up your knees. Sometimes I like to think about pushing my butt up and back – you might fall, but again – use the wall – it is your friend!
Step 6: Continue to use your core to lift your knees up, stacking your hips over your head, and slowly begin to straighten your legs. You can keep your knees bent here and practice straightening your legs up just a little bit – finding your balance takes practice, and it is unique and different for everyone!
Has anyone tried a headstand before? If so, are there any tips I missed? What is your biggest fear/problem/hangup with trying headstands/going upside down? I would love to hear from you!
Looks tricky. I think I would have to enroll in a specialized inversion class to gain confidence and know how.
Hi Charlotte! I normally have my students do the first pose as prep… then the second or 3rd as they get more comfortable in each pose. Setting a base is the beginning! An inversion workshop is also great for learning the basics – that is how I learned! Good luck!
Thanks so much for the suggestions.
This is exciting! Ive always wanted to try them with my yoga, but could never figure out how to start. Definitely going to try this next time! Thanks!
If I remember right, you had this addiction since 7th grade. No, wait, you were one month old hanging for dear life upside down on the side of a waterbed screaming bloody murder. You were one the go from the beginning. Excellent steps. Looks like it takes strength training to start with.
I’ve been wanting to learn how to do a handstand, but I’m scare of falling too.