YJ Feature: Ask the Teacher: Am I Ready to Try Headstand?
"But the pose isn’t without risks. Even practiced yoga students can unknowingly create pressure on the cervical spine if they lack the upper body strength and alignment to hold proper alignment, increasing the potential for injury. San Francisco-based yoga teacher Jenny Clise rarely teaches Headstand in a group class and only occasionally instructs students how to come into the inversion in workshops or private lessons.
The ability to safely practice Headstand, or any pose, depends on the individual practicing it. For that reason, it’s safest to consult with an experienced yoga teacher who is familiar with your practice before attempting it the first time, explains Clise. Your teacher can offer suggestions as to specific prep poses that will help strengthen your body and balance before you practice it.
Yoga teacher Annie Carpenter suggests that before trying Headstand for the first time, “you should be able to hold Downward-Facing Dog, Wide-Legged Forward Bend, Forearm Plank, and Dolphin for several minutes each.” These poses each require similar strength and alignment, such as sustaining external shoulder rotation, as Headstand, explains Carpenter.
When the time comes, remember that being upside-down is incredibly disorienting and even basic cues can become confusing, so it’s “safest to attempt your first several (hundred) Headstands under the careful supervision of your teacher,” says Clise.