I’ve taught hundreds of people to get into a headstand and their success had nothing to do with their size, shape, age, fear, upper body strength, or balancing skills.
I think headstand is particularly exhilarating and important to know how to practice and teach because it’s very often the first “real” inversion someone accomplishes. It’s a milestone, it’s freeing, and it’s empowering. If I could have known anything going into teaching or mastering this pose, it would be these two tips that will save anyone struggling with sticking this pose:
1. The Book Rule. If you opened a book and tried to make it stand upright, how would it look? Your headstand’s foundation should look the same. Shoulders over the elbows with the hands clasped. If your elbows are too far apart, you’ll fall forward or back, and the same would happen if they were pulled in too close to each other—it’d be impossible to keep your balance. Back to your book image: if you spread the ends too far apart, it’ll tip over, right? Same goes for your body!
2. The “L” Rule. Make an L with your right hand using the index finger and thumb. Bring your thumb to your nose and stretch your index finger to your scalp, and stretch it as far back as it’ll go without moving your thumb. Wherever the index finger stops is about where the pressure should be when you’re balancing.
So now you have your solid foundation and you know where the pressure will be applied, you’ve got the two best secrets for mastering this pose. These queues minimize fear and maximize the benefits because they eliminate the risk of injuring the neck.
Now, find a wall you can kick up to. Snuggle the head down, pop the hips up like you’re doing a downdog, and walk the feet towards the face until it feels like you’re about to tip over. Stop here, and try kicking up.
You tell me—how’d that feel?!