Alignment Basics: Tripod Headstand
There are many health benefits of turning your world upside down! For starters, practicing handstands and other inversions improve your focus. In addition, you strengthen your arms, back and core, improve circulation to your eyes and brain, and flush built up fluids from your ankles and feet. Perhaps, most importantly, there’s nothing like the confidence boost you get when you learn something new and do something extraordinary!
Step 1: To begin, center yourself facing the long edge of your yoga mat. Step your feet wide and point your toes directly forward. Fold your body forward and position your hands under your shoulders, with your fingers facing forward. Guide your hands so they are in line with your toes.
Step 2: Place the crown of your head on your mat, a few inches forward of and center of your hands. Your head and hands create a triangle shape, hence the name Tripod. Set your eyes on a non moving focal point at your center-line. Lift your heels off the mat and come up on your toes. Squeeze your shoulders around your spine and pull your shoulders away from your ears to avoid dumping weight into the head.
Step 3: Lift higher up on the toes with legs straight and in a wide-legged straddle, lift your feet off the ground. Allow the hips and bottom to fall back and land above the shoulders.
Step 4: With feet flexed, raw legs toward your center line. Press your heels toward the ceiling and pull your toes toward the ground. Keep your eye gaze locked on your focal point to help with balance.
#1 – Be patient with your body. Give yourself time to stretch your hamstrings and inner thighs until you have the flexibility to maintain straight legs in a wide-legged stance. Do this until your head reaches the yoga mat. Getting to Step 2 may take some time and forcing your head to the mat without proper alignment will not help you achieve headstand faster. More likely, you will stunt the process.
#2 – Going upside down can test your bravery. Before attempting Steps 3 and 4, practice lifting your heels in a wide-legged straddle often (as shown in Step 2). This will give you a sense of what it’s like to have weight on your head and hands and to build strength and flexibility.
#3 – Trust — Trust your body. Trust your timing and don’t rush the process.
Upcoming Yoga Teacher Trainings & Weekend Intensives
March 7- September 8, 2019: 200 Hour Hot Power Yoga Teacher Training
April 9-11, 2019: Carson Clay Calhoun Inversions & Arm Balances Workshops
Kellie Mathes is a Tier 2 Baptiste and Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 200, RYT 500, YACEP) and founder of Go Yoga! Express and Go Yoga! Express Belleville. She teaches yoga classes and workshops, leads yoga teacher training programs, and provides continuing education for yoga teachers.