Yoga Practice

Tips for Sirsasana, Headstand

Sirsasana, or headstand, is one of the first big inversions most people learn. Today’s post walks you through step by step on how to do it safely.

Step 1: Create your base.

Interlock your fingers and place elbows about shoulder width apart. Shoulder width is actually a little more narrow than you think, so make sure not to spread them out or you’ll have a really hard time balancing.

Step 2: Cradle your head in your hands.

You want just the top of your head on the ground, so the back of your head is in your hands. You should be looking straight back toward your feet.

Step 3: Get your butt in the air!

With your head cradled in your hands, slowly step your feet closer and closer toward your face until your butt is all the way up in the air. Get them as close in as you can so your back is nearly straight up and down. This aligns all the weight into the base you created and not in your feet.

Step 4: Tuck your knees into your chest.

This is the step that can make or break your headstand. When your feet are as close up to your face in the last step as possible, push only with your tip toes to tuck both knees into your chest. Don’t jump. Don’t hop. Your butt was already high up in the air, so you don’t have that far to go.

Once you get your knees in, stay there. Breathe. Balance. Find stability in your arms and your back. If you’re feeling crunchy in your neck, don’t go any further!

Step 5: Slowly straighten your legs.

Only when you’ve found stability with bent knees should you work on straightening your legs. This will prevent a lot of rolling out and crashes into walls/neighbors/unsuspecting sleeping pets nearby. With your feet together, slowly straighten legs as one unit. Keep the knees glued together. Since your legs weigh so much, you don’t want them to separate and force you to have to balance two limbs going in different directions.

If you’ve gotten this far, then it’s all about balance.

Step 6: Use back and core muscles to balance.

Getting UP into headstand is different from STAYING up, and this is where you’ll need your back and core muscles to help keep your body lengthened and stabilize the balance. Keep your shoulders from collapsing. Rely on those big back muscles you have to hold the skeletal structure. Don’t forget to breathe. Work toward 20-25 breaths in headstand.

Step 7: Come down slowly with control.

When you’re ready to come out of headstand, do so slowly and with control. If you need to bring your knees back down into your chest, do it. If you’re working on coming down halfway with legs straight, you might need to bend your back a little to shift the butt weight in the opposite direction of your legs. Take your time.

Step 8: Reward your hard work with child’s pose.

Child’s pose is the counter pose for headstand. Press the hips back toward your heels. Lengthen arms and back. Relax. Enjoy it. You deserve it!

EXTRA TIP: When you’re first working on finding and maintaining your balance, rolling out is VERY possible. As soon as you get that uneasy wobbly feeling that you can no longer control, tuck your head toward your chin, unhook your thumbs and roll onto your back. Trying to save a wobbly mess is a danger!

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  1. Heidi says

    AWESOME! I love how cars driving past could watch you in action! Very, very cool.

    • Terri says

      haha! i try not to give my neighbors a show, but i guess this time it’s ok.

  2. subir Paul says

    Can i do Sirsasana/Headstand after Jogging or fast running. Kindly suggest

    • hmm… i wouldn’t recommend going straight into headstand right after running. you’ll want your heart rate to come back to normal before doing any kind of inversion so you don’t have all the blood suddenly rushing to your head. is there a reason why you want to pair running with headstands?

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