I find the trick in headstand is to actively push the head and forearms down as you lift the shoulders and body up. This strengthens the neck muscles. The minute you find you are "sagging" onto the neck and head come down.
Nice response to Broad's book
Personally, I would not suggest Anatomy of Hatha Yoga as a good source for learning inversions or most other asana. The book has an amazing amount of information but it clearly states that practicing Shirshasana on the crown of the head is acceptable when it should NEVER be taught this way unless you want a compressed cervical spine and possible nerve damage between C3 and C5. Shirshasana should be learned from a well-trained teacher who knows how to see your body and understand what opening and strength you need to do the pose safely. It likely won't take 1 to 3 years if the student has a regular practice. However, without awareness and strength in the Serratus Anterior muscles you're asking for trouble. It's an amazing pose with amazing effects. Practiced improperly it is destructive.
My training is the weight of the body is NEVER on the head in any inversion. It is in the forearms or hands. I have seen people on just the head and have no idea how they are lifting while the last vertebrae grinds into the skull bone!
I have the chair too
Gaiam's chair is awesome. If you are about 43ish and are doing a lot of yoga, it's great. After a while, age is a concern with the skeleton. I feel great with the chair, but wonder what is good for the body at this point. I'm a seriously serious body person. I have real concerns.
i did i headstand yestersay and i woke up this morning and i can hardly sit up. thanks for that article, now i know not to do a headstand without help from a profressional
As a former avid headstander who just had a metal plate added to her neck, take it from me, this is not to be taken lightly. I never had any neck pain in headstand or shoulderstand, could easily lift my head off the floor in the former. If you know you have any degeneration or other weirdness in your neck, stay out of inversions. I even modify down dog. I miss my inversions but it's so not worth the risk... Hans, love the heads-up comment : )
I'm in a gym situation and have purchased the headstand chair (Gaiam calls it a "body lift") there's no pressure on the neck, all top of the shoulders but it gets the student used to being in the inverted position without the neck concern.
I agree! No matter what I do with my headstand, it always hurts my neck. Finally, I've realized this pose is not for me. Luckily there are so many ways to invert! I use this example all the time for my students. Sometimes a certain posture is not for you. Again, luckily we have thousands of postures to choose from...
i love headstands
i ve been doing headstands since i was 5 and am now 35. i was a competetive gymnast at an early age and am now living with many squeeky discs especially in my neck. i find that an old fashioned headstand with palms on the floor is better for my neck because i can support myself a tiny bit with my arms and shoulders. also its the version i grew up doing so its easier! i notice that i am able to balance myself better with my hands and fingers than with my elbows and forearms and that protects my neck. Have Safe Fun!!