Are you ready to turn your world upside down? Inversions are my absolute favorite part of yoga, even though they are difficult, and at times extremely frustrating.
Besides having a cute name, the teddy bear headstand is the inversion that I find easiest – so it’s a good place to start if you want to flip around.
In this post I’ll show four steps to help you get into your first headstand.
(Note – when I say I the teddybear headstand was the easiest, I don’t mean it was easy. Inversions can take a very long time to learn, so be patient and keep practicing if you don’t succeed immediately. This applies to lots of things in life).
First of all, I just want to make it clear that I’m no yoga-expert, not even close to – but this is the steps that helped me. Remember to be careful. If at first you can only do step 1, it’s fine! Keep practicing that step, as it will help you get used to being upside down. Don’t push your body further than it is ready to go.
Before you attempt this pose, getting your body warmed up is vital. You don’t want to just hop right in to it.
Start out by doing some core work (ab exercises), stretches for the hamstrings, like downward facing dog, getting your neck and spine ready with cat–cow pose and some shoulder openers – you can find suggestions here. I personally love eagle arms.
How to do a tripod headstand in 4 steps
Before warming up, you will want to roll out your mat (maybe next to a wall) and wear something you are able to move around in – not jeans like me in the photos. That’s just a bad idea.
If going outside is an option, I suggest you do it. The softness of the grass makes it less uncomfortable for your head to be on the ground for a long period of time (you can also double over your mat for extra cushioning or use a pillow). And more importantly, it doesn’t hurt to fall over – I often found that the fear of falling over, even with a wall behind me, blocked me from trying my hardest to get up – insert motivational quote.
Start out by sitting on your hands and knees, bringing your head to the ground and lifting the knees up and walking your feet in as close as you can.
This is called a tripod headstand because of the tripod formed by your head and hands. Focus on distributing the weight evenly between your head and hands so you don’t strain your neck. Make sure you keep the crown of the head on the ground and don’t roll back and forth on your head. Pause here shortly.
Now it’s time to bring one knee at the time on top of your triceps. It’s time to start really engaging your core.
Core strength and control are the most important factors when it comes to mastering inversions. If you’re not ready to do headstands, you can work on strengthening you core in other ways.
To distribute the weight evenly, keep your pelvic around the midpoint between your hands and head. Pause here shortly, and celebrate the fact that you are doing a headstand 🙂
Now it’s time to really use those abdominal muscles. Focus on bringing your body in towards your midline, bringing your knees towards each other. If you want to take a break here instead of pushing directly into the full headstand, pause for a couple of breaths, while keeping your heels closer to your butt than I do in the picture. Remember to move slowly, and really engaging your core to maintain control. Lift your legs up instead of swinging them.
The final step! Still using those core muscles to keep balance, extend your legs up into the sky. Don’t forget to focus on the midline, pressing your legs towards each other. You can stay here for as many breaths as you feel like, and then slowly bring your legs down the same way they came up
or just fall over. It’s a lot easier and faster
Instead of pushing both your legs up at the same time, you can do it with one leg first to test your balance and get a feel of the pose – once you’re ready, extend the second leg straight up. When you get a hang of it, experiment!
My last advice is: Take care! Don’t attempt this without consulting your doctor if you have high blood pressure, neck pain or carrying a fetus (in your uterus of course, what where you thinking). Sometimes it’s advised not to do inversions while on your period – so stay safe.
Any questions? Let me know in the comments!