Yoga Headstands

By Jessica Veldman

November 26, 2014 4 min read

A few months ago, I decided that I really wanted to up my yoga game and learn to do a headstand. All the models were doing it on Instagram, so it seemed like the cool thing to do. Plus, I thought maybe it'd make my inner yogi proud. Naturally, I did the first thing all yogis do to learn a new move: I consulted YouTube. It was at this point that I realized I may have been a bit out of my element, not having a clue what the difference was between a tripod headstand, a forearm headstand, a handstand and about a handful of other words that meant balancing upside down that I could not fathom.

Upon choosing the "easiest" looking pose, the forearm headstand, I was ready to begin. The very soothing voice told me to measure the distance of my forearms, and I thought, "I got this." Then she told me to place my head between my hands and lift my bum into the air. No biggie. I walked my feet forward as far as they could go. And then the woman crouched up into the next step, and my body couldn't follow. Somehow, she was balancing on her head and forearms and had her knees in very close to her body, which she then shot up into the air. I thought maybe that middle part was just for beginners, clearly weaker people. So I shot my legs straight into the air. And I held my very first forearm headstand for about less than one glorious second before I rolled over into my bedside table, probably terrifying my neighbors who lived on the floor below and causing my roommate to run into my room to check on me.

It was then, rising up bruised, red faced and with a bit of a headache, that I realized I needed to get into headstands slowly if I was serious about doing one on my own. Google will tell you there are dozens of reasons to do a headstand a day, including reducing your risk of depression, strengthening core muscles and the simple fact that it's a pretty cool party move, albeit I have yet to bust out a headstand at a friend's party and can only see that going badly. However, those weren't the reasons why I wanted to learn to do a headstand. I wanted the challenge. I had become a bit bored with my routine and honestly wanted to try something new. More importantly, I wanted to learn how to do a headstand so I could change my profile picture on Facebook to a photo of me balancing on my forearms on a paddleboard. Let's be honest. That was the main reason.

Despite practicing this move for several months in order to achieve my new goal, I still get very excited when I can hold my forearm or tripod headstand (I finally learned the difference!) for about 30 seconds before toppling over. Some days, my dogs want to do yoga with me, which leads to some very interesting variations. I still continue practicing near a wall, mainly so I do not land on said dogs. They avoid me for the rest of the day when that happens. Yet I have really come to appreciate my yoga inversions (and not just because some online articles say they help prevent grey hair and keep the girls perky).

Going upside down makes me feel proud of my body and helps me appreciate the strength within. Yoga seems much more exciting with my small challenge, and the inversions help brighten my mood for the rest of the day. Maybe those online articles were right and there are very positive reasons to do a headstand every day. Word to the wise, though: Start small, against a wall, and warn your roommate beforehand.

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