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Inversion Yoga Poses

Challenge Pose: Supported Headstand

Move step by step with courage and strength into Salamba Sirsasana.

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Move step by step with courage and strength into Salamba Sirsasana.

PREVIOUS STEP IN YOGAPEDIA3 Prep Poses for Supported Headstand
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Step 1

Start in Forearm Plank with your elbows under your shoulders and your fingers interlaced. Turn your biceps to face forward, and push your forearms into the floor evenly from fingers to elbows. Hug in the sides of your waist and use your inner thighs like you did with the block in Tadasana to firm the quads and the tops of your hamstrings.

See alsoAsk the Expert: How Do I Know I’m Ready to Try Headstand?

Step 2

Walk your feet into Dolphin Pose (Down Dog, but with forearms down), gently drop to your knees, and softly place the crown of your head on the floor like you did in Headstand variation at the wall. Then straighten your legs again. Make sure that your head and neck are bearing very little weight. Create stability in your shoulders by firming your biceps and triceps. Bring one heel up, tucking the knee in toward your chest. Hover in this tucked position, pressing the forearms and wrists into the floor, moving the shoulders away from the ears, and finding the core stability you had in Mountain Pose.

See also Supported Headstand (Sirsasana I): Build this Foundational Inversion

Step 3

As you become more confident and stable, you can engage the core even more and bring both heels up. Your pelvis may shift past your shoulders to create a counterweight for your legs in this transition pose. Keep your core engaged and be sure the weight in your head doesn’t intensify. If it does increase—at any stage—return to having just one leg up, or to Forearm Plank.

See alsoHeadstand Pose: 3 Tips to Defy Gravity + Stay Strong

Step 4

Once you’re stable, with both knees up while keeping weight off the head and neck, you can start to unfold at the hips, like you did as you moved back in Forearm Plank Press. Stop if you get wobbly, and take your time to create stability by going back to the prep poses. Eventually, once you build the strength and find the alignment, your feet will stack over your head. Consider it this way: Supported Headstand is exactly like Tadasana, but flipped upside down, with your core and legs engaged and spine aligned. Hold this pose until you get wobbly or feel the weight increasing in your neck and head. Don’t push it, ever.

To come out, use the same core and arm strength and stability that you used when you dragged the blanket toward you in Forearm Plank. Press your arms down and slowly bring your legs down to Dolphin Pose. Keep the weight out of your head and neck, and keep your shoulder blades moving away from your head. To finish, rest in Child’s Pose.

Stay safe
No pose is worth getting hurt for, and this one can be a huge risk to your neck and the nerve chains that run from there down into your arms. Don’t be concerned with getting up into the final pose—or with getting there quickly. Each step should feel stable before you take the next one, to prevent short- or long-term injury.

See alsoUse Awareness to Balance in Headstand

Don’t…

Don’t crunch your neck, or wear your shoulders as earrings, which causes tension in the neck and shoulders and shifts more weight into the head.

See alsoChallenge Pose: Headstand-to-Chaturanga Transition

Don’t…

Don’t bring your legs past your head (unless you are moving into a Headstand variation). This can cause compression in the lower back and make balancing difficult.

See alsoKathryn Budig Challenge Pose: Bound Hand Headstand B

About Our Pro

Alexandria Crow yoga teacher

Teacher and model Alexandria Crow is a former competitive gymnast whose yoga experience has been about transformation. She guides her students step by step through creative sequences, challenging them to stay conscious of their body’s strengths and limitations in the present moment. Crow teaches slow-moving, vinyasa-based therapeutic classes catered to the needs of individuals. You can find her at YogaWorks in Santa Monica, California; giving workshops around the world; and at alexandriacrow.com.