Yoga headstands are challenging. Some people can do it on their first try. I am not one of those people. Try as I might, for months and months, I practiced. It just wouldn’t happen and I had no idea why.
After long six months, I finally got up into a headstand without a wall.
Keep reading to find out the four reasons I wasn’t able to do it for so long and the five things I learned in the process.
Six months is a long time. Why did I keep at it?
To be honest, yoga headstands look impressive and have amazing benefits.
Some of the benefits of headstand include:
- reduces stress
- strengthens core, shoulder, and arm muscles
- improves digestion
- increases blood flow to the eyes, head, and scalp
- increases focus
But those aren’t the only reasons why I wanted to learn how to do one. I wanted to learn how to do a headstand because I love learning new things. The more challenging something is, the greater the pleasure I get when I achieve it.
I was the girl in college that loved having tough professors that barely gave out any A’s. Because when you worked hard in those classes and got the A, you know that you actually deserved it.
Headstands are like this. You have to earn it and when you finally get it, it feels amazing.
This was clearly something that was very challenging for me and boy did it feel good when I finally got it!
While headstands have amazing benefits, I do want to point out that headstands are not for everybody.
People with the following should not do headstands:
- menstruation and pregnancy
- high blood pressure
- hiatal hernia
- certain eye problems
- neck problems
Why I was Failing at Yoga Headstands
Looking back, I can think of four things that were stopping me.
1. My lack of strength was one. To fix this, I started doing dolphin pushups (a tip I got at an inversion workshop). I worked my way up to 21 of them a day. 21 dolphin pushups are no joke. This definitely solved my strength issue.
Haven’t heard of a dolphin push up before? Here is my video on what they are, along with some modifications you can do.
2. I also lacked the knowledge of how to do yoga headstands properly. After doing an inversion workshop, I finally understood the principles and techniques that I was missing. My head placement was off and I didn’t have the properly tilt in my spine.
In my opinion, this is not something you should learn online but would be best done in person with a qualified teacher. Luckily, there are inversion workshops in just about every city.
If you want to learn how to do yoga headstands, invest the time and money into one of these workshops. You will also want to work your way up to 21 daily dolphin pushups before you attend the workshop. This way you have the strength already at the workshop and will be able to apply the techniques while you are there.
3. The other thing that was stopping was not as easy to fix. It was fear. I had a lack of trust in myself and a fear of getting hurt.
Going upside down and having the potential of falling over was scary for me. Not in a way a superficial way, but in a deeply rooted way. I didn’t even realize that I had that deep of a fear, it was subconscious.
Changing your subconscious thoughts is tricky business. It’s not something you can force.
I was finally able to get over this deep fear by consistently giving myself positive self-talk and by practicing, practicing, and practicing. Eventually, my mind started to trust my body and I was able to overcome my fear.
4. I was trying to get away from the wall too quickly. I was still using the wall to keep my balance every time I was trying a headstand and yet my ego would get in the way and thought I should be practicing in the middle of the room. This made my fear grow like crazy and I put myself at huge risk for injury.
What I Learned
This was quite the journey for me and I learned a lot in the process.
- Balancing on your head is not the end all be all of yoga. Throughout my headstand journey, I also discovered how much I love Yin and Restorative Yoga. These practices are pretty much the exact opposite of doing headstands, but they make me feel equally as good.
- Strength is crucial for inversions. It is better to build strength and then start your inversion practice. (21 dolphin pushups a day!)
- Don’t give up. It might take you weeks, months, years to trust yourself enough to do a headstand. If it’s something that you want badly enough, don’t give up.
- This is something you will want to learn with an experienced teacher. Doing inversions wrong can seriously harm you. Go online, find an inversion workshop, and take it.
- Do headstands with a wall behind you until you haven’t needed it touch it with your feet for a LONG time. There is no sense in increasing your fear and putting yourself at risk for injury.
The moral of the story is not to give up, enjoy the journey. Because after all, the journey is the best part.
If you are trying to learn how to do a headstand, then increasing your yoga practice is also a good idea. You can read about how I increased to a daily practice without injury in my Increasing Your Yoga Practice Post.
Have you done a headstand? How long did it take you and what was your experience like? Comment below! I would love to hear about your journey.