Challenge Pose: Headstand-to-Chaturanga Transition

Kathryn Budig walks us through a truly badass transition from Headstand to Chaturanga.
kathryn budig headstand to chaturanga

Kathryn Budig walks us through a truly badass transition from Headstand to Chaturanga.

My last Challenge Pose post tackled how to fall from Tripod Headstand into Chaturanga in a slightly more feminine and soft way than what we'll dig into today. Now we'll approach the fall from the traditional angle. You'll sound like a ton of bricks hitting the floor (don't panic) when you come down—but it'll also make you feel pretty badass.

This transition is strong. It requires an immense amount of trust in yourself and in your body. Everyone can do it; it's just a matter of whether or not you're mentally ready to approach the shift. It's a change, and as we all know—change is scary. This is an awesome opportunity to let go of attachments to what you think you know or what you're capable of. Just take the lesson in, breathe, and literally let go.

Step 1

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As always, it will be difficult to practice falling out of your Headstand if you don't already have a headstand practice (and Chaturanga practice) so please review your Tripod Headstand alignment and details.

Step 2

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Once you get into your full Tripod Headstand, there is very little change that will happen before we drop. First, flex your feet. Your toes are the biggest obstacle of this transition. If you land on the tips of your toes your risking jamming them, or ever worse, breaking them. So when I say flex, I really mean it. The goal is to land on the balls of your feet in the exact same way you do your Chaturanga. If this confuses you at all, take a break from reading this and do a Chaturanga; that's our landing pad for our feet.

Once you're feet are powerfully flexed and prepared to be a landing pad, you need to lock-in the body. This may sound morbid, but I want you to act as though your body has gone into rigor mortisWork from your foundation: elbows in over your wrists, shoulders lifting away from your earlobes, front rib corset in and toward each other, tailbone extending toward your heels, and legs powerfully engaged with flexed feet.

Step 3

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It's fall time. Once your "rigor mortis" has set in you might come to realize that Tripod Headstand is Chaturanga—just turned on its (your!) head. With that realization, the only thing that really needs to change is getting off the head. Trying to lift it from this position would take superhero strength, so instead, image this: someone walks by in your locked-in state and simply blows in your direction. This slight wind instigates the falling of your legs (no bending at the knees or hips) and you slide from the crown of your head as you extend your gaze forward. Without ANY bend in your body, the feet drop into Chaturanga with your head is now off the ground, your gaze forward. This is what we strive for. What will most likely happen is a minor freak out followed by a belly flop of sorts. The key here is to keep your body STRAIGHT. No piking, no bending, no folding. Lock it in, let your legs start to fall as a team, and just let yourself slide from the top of your head until it's off the ground and you're gazing forward.

NOTE It is very tempting to straighten your arms as you fall so you land in Plank instead of Chaturanga. This is your brain simply responding to an intense situation telling your body to protect your face from crashing into the ground. Trust yourself! If you can do Chaturanga, you can do this! Keep every part of your body strong and committed as you go through your transition. You've got this.


Kathryn Budig is jet-setting yoga teacher who teaches online at Yogaglo. She is the Contributing Yoga Expert for Women’s Health Magazine, Yogi-Foodie for MindBodyGreen, creator of Gaiam’s Aim True Yoga DVD, co-founder of Poses for Paws and author of Rodale’s The Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga. Follow her on TwitterFacebookInstagram or on her website.

Yoga teacher kathryn budig