If these versions of Headstand present any problems, simply practice Sirsasana I until all of the contraindications have been alleviated. And if you object to falling over (and you will probably fall a lot at first!), then work near a wall.
Start by coming into Sirsasana I (Headstand I), and once you've found your balance, unclasp the hands and release the fingers. Lifting one elbow and wrist, draw the hand forward and place the palm on the ground, into Sirsasana II (Headstand II). The upper arm is horizontal, the forearm vertical. Once you are steady, place the other hand similarly, keeping the forearms parallel to each other. Keep your shoulders away from your ears, which will free the cervical spine and strengthen your upper back and shoulders. Build up to staying here for 3 to 5 minutes.
When you're ready for more, gradually straighten each arm in front of you until they are parallel to each other. The palms should face up and the elbows should extend thoroughly as you come into Mukta Hasta Sirsasana. Keep the shoulders lifted away from the flooródon't let them bunch by the ears. Firm the legs and extend up through the abdominal organs to keep the spine mobile and healthy, especially the cervical spine.
Once you've mastered that, turn the palms down. Slowly widen the arms, moving them away from each other on the floor. Aim first to get them straight out to the sides in line with the shoulder. Learn to balance in that position, which can be very challenging. Once you've mastered that, continue traveling the arms behind you until they are as close to parallel as possible behind your back. Hold for 1 minute in each variation.
You are now ready to become lords of your cosmic inner dance. This is as much about doing the pose as it is about refraining from participating in anything that might seek to destroy the pose and thus your equilibrium. This means practicing with conviction and sincerity everything you've learned about staying upright. If you sense a stumble coming, gather the strength and inner fortitude you've been building in the other poses and find your balance once again. That is the cosmic dance.
Begin in Tadasana. Find the four corners of your feet, ground them, and prepare them to receive the rotations and strivings of your hip and knee. Remember the sensations of the aja, the goat that springs lightly back and forth, up and down. Observe the strength and length of the inner thighs as they stabilize and ground you, while your torso flies upward. Contrast the potential for power and speed of the shoulder with the delicacy, stability, and control of the scapula you learned in Headstand.
Preparations complete, transfer the weight to the right foot. As you move the head of your right femur deeper into the hip joint and lift the kneecap, recall the presence and force that you had in your previously secure standing poses. Focus on maintaining poise. Refuse to surrender your balance. As you move on in the pose and your balance is threatened, immediately pause, search within, and maintain a relaxed composure until your mind and body announce that they are ready to proceed with the dance.
Subscribe to YJ
Join Yoga Journal's Benefits Plus
Liability insurance and benefits to support
teachers and studios.