Why are Headstand Poses So Challenging?

This is a question I have had for many years, and I have been avoiding headstand poses any way I could. In a few occasions, I stopped attending some really good classes because they included headstands or handstands and I simply was too scared of even trying them.

When I began to take yoga classes in my current studio, I started trying some classes that also encouraged them but I began to get more curious. I simply watched the students doing them and some of us just rested on the baby pose or tried the preparation steps to the headstand. I was getting frustrated as I knew it was all just fear that drove me to avoid the pose, and I felt the little I was attempting was not going to get me far. However, I did know that at least my body was getting a tiny taste of what it involves to do a headstand.

One day, as I entered the studio to get ready for a yoga class  I saw a poster regarding a headstand workshop. I immediately signed up. I was both scared but excited to finally be properly instructed in a pose that I had become so afraid of.  I had no idea what to expect as I knew how terrified of trying it I was, but deep inside I knew I wanted to learn it, to transcend that fear that was keeping me from discovering something wonderful and new.

The two-hour workshop was really good! We started with breathing exercises which are important to do as it is necessary to remember to breathe deeply during the headstand pose.  They also help to relax your body which is important as well. I learned what poses are best to warm up the body and stretch the areas that need to be stretched for headstands:

  • Sun salutations
  • Warrior I and II
  • Forward bends

Yoga headstandWe were then taught the steps to prepare ourselves for the headstand. The way you position your elbows and hold your hands on the floor was really useful to understand so that you can support your neck and be relaxed during the pose. Keeping your shoulders back and down because the tendency is for them to relax in the wrong position and so your back is not supported properly. I also appreciated knowing that I could bring in my feet towards the head with my knees bent if I needed to. That allowed me to begin feeling the pose more as I got as close as I had to and then I could get my legs up beginning with the knees.

With the help of the instructor, I was up against the wall and breathing with it and remembering all the little but important details. I tried it several times but I couldn’t get myself up alone so the instructor would help me a bit and reminded me of a few things. Then I just stayed up there playing with my core strength and trying to separate from the wall a few inches. I then would gracefully lower my legs down.

I felt the teacher’s support and instructions were paramount to my ability to transcend the fear I had – though not completely gone, I was able to relax on the pose and feel happy.  So why did I think it was so challenging? I think I just needed to really understand the pose and be in a place where I felt safe to try it. Without the basic understanding and preparation, I think the body just contracts itself and the mind shuts off any impulse you might have to open up for a new challenge.

I hope this post inspires you to learn and/or try headstands in your yoga journey and please feel free to share your adventures with this wonderful yoga pose below in the comments area.


8 Replies to “Why are Headstand Poses So Challenging?”

  1. hi,
    Thank you for your article about why headstand poses are so challenging. Although I have never tried yoga and headstand poses I enjoyed reading it. I would however love to try yoga one day. I’m glad you overcame your challenge and I was definitely inspired to try headstand poses.

    1. Thank you Melanie. I am glad the post was inspiring. I hope you do try Yoga some day – it’s wonderful. Feel free to visit again if you feel moved to or in need of some more inspiration.

  2. I love yoga, but I have always been too scared to do a headstand pose. I think the idea of a headstand pose instruction class is amazing, I have never seen one before, but I’ll look out for one! A person holding you up at first so you don’t fall or injure yourself and also being properly instructed would make me feel much more confident about trying it.

    1. For sure! I do hope that you find one or if you go to a yoga studio maybe you can recommend it. I am sure there are many students that love yoga like you and I who are afraid of a headstand too and would love to participate in a guided class. Thanks for visiting and feel free to come back again if ever you need some more inspiration.

  3. Hello here. Interesting blog because it resonates with my resistance to stand on my head. I simply do not like this position. I think that I would break my neck and would be good bye for this precious world.
    When I go to chiropractor, I refuse to move my neck. Do you know when they like to twist your neck sideways?
    I would better do constantly exercises for the whole body but I do not want something what is associated with head and neck.
    I can tell that you are really brave that you stood on your head. Respect.
    Thanks for the good read, all the best, Nemira.

    1. LOL! Thank you Nemira. I felt exactly the same – the thought of being upside down on my head was just not a pretty picture on my mind and the risk or hurting my neck always kept me from trying. But I am glad that I now know that with proper instruction and guidance and a little faith, learning the pose is such a reward. It’s definitely safe when done with proper warm up, proper body posture and practice. Thanks for visiting and I am happy you enjoyed the post.

  4. Hi! I have been to a yoga weekend where we tried headstand pose, but I did not manage to get up. My teacher wanted us to learn without help… But I understand the princip and I think practice will do the trick, the core strength are my achilles I guess. Thanks for inspiring me to try again!

    1. Hi Linda,
      Thanks for the comment- I do have to agree that practice is what is needed to be able to get up on our own. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to visit the site again if you need more inspiration. 🙂

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