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Yoga Tripod Headstand Tutorial {Video}

Time for another yoga tutorial video and this time I’m covering tripod headstand. Many of my students and blog readers have expressed that headstand is something that they want to add to their practice but need a little help with mastering it. Headstand is one of the more common inversions in yoga and offers some great therapeutic benefits.

  • Stress reduction
  • Improved digestion
  • Stimulation of the pituitary gland which in turn benefits the thyroid, pineal and adrenal glands
  • Strengthens the circulatory system and improves heart and lunch function
  • Can reduce inflammation/swelling in lower body, ankles
  • Excellent core strengthener and stabilizer
  • Develops neck, shoulder and spine strength and stability
  • And some say it can even help promote scalp health and prevent/reduce gray hairs by sending blood flow and nutrients to the scalp. Clearly I need to spend more time in headstand! 😉

First things first, I do not recommend practicing headstand if you have any neck or spine issues before clearing it with your teacher, doctor, chiropractor, etc. Second, I can’t stress how important it is to maintain body control in your headstands and not to dump all of the weight into your head and neck. I cover this in the video but the purpose of the headstand is not to let your head and neck withstand the entire weight of your body. You must use the arms, shoulders, core and legs to help you hold this pose. You should be able to feel a significant difference between dumping into the head and neck and recruiting other muscles to perform the pose.

Here are my top tips for a successful headstand.

  • Form a triangle as your base of support – either between the palms and the head or the elbows and the head. You cannot do a headstand with your hands out next to your ears.
  • Place the crown of your head on the floor, not your forehead. Tuck the chin to lengthen the neck and rest right on the top of the head.
  • Squeeze your elbows in like chaturanga arms. You will not feel supported and strong in the upper body if your elbows are out wide.
  • Get your hips up over your shoulders. This is a MUST before you can fully extend the legs.
  • Slow and controlled lift up. If you fling your body up you will most likely flop over in the other direction. Use your core!!! It should feel like you’re getting an ab workout as you lift into and lower out of your headstand.
  • Once you are up – squeeze, squeeze, squeeze! Everything is engaged and working.
  • Use the palms or forearms (depending on what variation you’re taking) to really help take the weight of the body.
  • Don’t freak out! Headstands are accessible to so many people. Your age, body type, experience, etc. don’t really matter. It’s having the confidence to try. I always recommend starting against a wall or with a partner when you start out. And practice often!

This video covers two basic variations of tripod headstand and how to prep the pose, get into the pose and exit the pose.

Let me know if you have questions or feedback and I’d love for you to report back on your progress.

Is headstand a part of your current practice? If not, is it something you want to master?

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Paige @ Your Trainer Paige May 13, 2013, 7:44 pm

    This is my current yoga goal!!

  • She Rocks Fitness May 13, 2013, 9:02 pm

    I have been struggling with my inversions lately. I’m carrying a lot of stress and uncertainty in my life right now and it carries over into my practice. So getting up into headstand has been so hard and scary, which usually never has been the case. I think I need to let it all go and PRACTICE. Thanks again for another fabulous tutorial. I love these videos! 🙂

  • zoey May 13, 2013, 9:53 pm

    YEEaaahHHH!!! I begged you for a headstand tutorial and you delivered. You’re beyond awesome. THANK YOU, thank you, THANK YOU. My head(stand) and heart thank you!

  • Addy @ Six-Kick Switch May 13, 2013, 10:12 pm

    Thank you thank you for this great tutorial! I have been wanting to progress into tripod for forever – so excited to practice it now!

  • Lauren K May 13, 2013, 10:22 pm

    Now I have a new goal for Tuesday nights! I am also not sure how you talked through the actual demo. Impressive!

  • Ja @Ja on the RUN May 13, 2013, 11:37 pm

    How I wish I could something like that.

  • Sam @ The Balance Artist May 14, 2013, 12:55 am

    I have been having better luck with handstands lately….I can’t stay up for long, but once I stepped away from the wall, I finally got the “feeling” for it. And held a few for a few seconds! But I literally just watched this (yes, almost at 1am) and got down on my floor and tried a headstand….and for the first time ever, really paid attention to how hard my palms were pressing into the floor, relieving my neck, and was able to get one leg up and then the other for JUST a second….but wow, what a feeling, your tutorial totally helped a headstand to “click” for me!! Thank you!! I always was confused because I had a pretty strong core and didn’t understand how I couldn’t get up….but I finally learned how important the arms/hands are in this one once I focused on them! Also, like Lauren K said….super impressive you could talk through that!! 🙂

  • miki May 14, 2013, 7:48 am

    Great video. I’m okay with headstand, any tips on handstand (without a wall)?! Hope you’re doing well!

  • Erica May 14, 2013, 9:41 am

    Thank you! You make it look easy! But this was very helpful, and it’s also helpful to know that it “looks easy” because you’ve practiced it! Inversions are my biggest fear. Even with a wall they absolutely freak me out. For some reason, if I use the wall while facing the room it helps? If that makes sense? I’m working on all of this though!

  • Advocarerunner May 14, 2013, 2:11 pm

    What a great tutorial! And wowza! You are awesome!

  • Charlotte May 14, 2013, 4:00 pm

    This made me smile as I remembered growing up, if we were to tell my dad there was “nothing to do” he would say ” Go stand on your head in the corner.” Now to go see if I can still do one.

  • SueM May 14, 2013, 4:38 pm

    I would like a tutorial on getting into a handstand. Specifically, how to kick up. I can’t seem to coordinate and throw my legs up against the wall.

  • tara May 16, 2013, 2:11 pm

    thanks for this. i’ve had lots of trouble with headstands. i can stay in tripod forever but just have a hard time controlling myself once my legs kick up and i get tremendous stress on my neck. i’m not sure what i’m doing wrong or maybe i just need to get used to the pressure on my head and neck? also where does your focus go once you start to get into the headstand ?

  • Alyssa June 20, 2013, 1:22 pm

    This is so helpful! I’ve been practicing a headstand for awhile now!

  • Lauren May 14, 2014, 10:44 am

    I just got up for the first time from your excellent tutorial. Thank you so so so so much for taking the time to post this. I wish I lived near you to take a class!

    • Jen May 14, 2014, 10:51 am

      lauren! congrats!!!! thanks so much for watching it and trying it out!

  • Angela August 19, 2014, 5:37 pm

    thank you! i was finally able to do it!! do you think you could please do a tutorial on forearm stands (handstands are too advanced for me)?

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