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How to do a headstand

Photo provided by Miqueas Barreiro

Maggie said I could learn how to do a headstand super fast. Well, that was easy for her to say. She played Division 1 Volleyball and had been doing yoga for years. Flexibility and balance were her strengths. Me on the other hand? Sure I had swum competitively for 11 years, but balance in the water and balance on land are two very, very different things.

But she was the reason I stuck with and passed Network Analysis, so if she said I could do a headstand, it was worth the try, right? Plus, the three-month Unlimited Yoga Classes GroupMe was a really good deal. And you know what? Maggie was right. I’m sorry I ever doubted her.

You too might think that such an achievement is out of your reach, but it’s not. YouTube has some nice tutorials and here are some straightforward tips to get you off the ground, should you choose to accept this mission:

  1. Be prepared to fall. A LOT.

Like science, the key to achieving headstand perfection is experimentation. Sometimes your legs will go too far back. Other times, they won’t go up high enough. You can only discover the sweet spot by letting your body achieve proprioception through trial-and-error. So, do your best Spiderman impression and don’t let the fall keep you down.

  1. Haters will say it’s Photoshop.

Having a friend take a picture or video of you attempting a headstand provides you with a good reference afterward. For weeks my dad would encourage me to point my toes and straighten my legs, but it was only after seeing myself crooked did I grasp the execution and make the adjustment. A full-length mirror also functions as an excellent instant feedback system.

Just don’t be that person that takes a photo of the one time they succeed for half a second and then posts it on Instagram like they are a yogi aficionado. It’s disrespectful to all the work others have put into mastering on-command, stable headstands.

  1. Do what works for you.

Listening to your body and adjusting to your preferences is a huge part of yoga. I achieved mastery by starting with crow pose, and then slowly building up to transitioning to a headstand, strengthening with every attempt. My friend learned best by starting with a modified down-dog and walking her feet until she could lift them up and send them sky high. Some people use a wall to start out. Others prefer to have a trusted friend provide stability or security. It’s up to you. Modify at your own convenience.

  1. Build to the climax

Start with a simpler pose, such as Tree or Warrior 3 to enhance your balance. Use Crow or Plank to build your arm strength. Once you start trying to raise your legs, do it in stages, mastering each aspect before advancing to the next level.

  1. Did I mention you are going to fall a lot?

There you go. Five quality tips from a doubter who had his fitness beliefs turned upside down. If you have the courage, accept the challenge and rise above it. If you don’t, no worries. We headstanders always need photographers.

P.S. When you achieve headstand perfection, make sure to tag us and use “#Oracletaughtmehow.” We’ll repost our favorites!