Want to learn how to headstand and forearm stand? Practice makes perfect so we’ll walk you through the moves…
1. You need to have a really stable base before you attempt either of these moves – they are strong in the shoulders, forearms and core. For supported headstand begin on all fours and take the forearms down shoulder width apart (you can check this by taking each elbow then straightening out the arms in front of you). Interlacing the fingers make a ‘basket’ for the back of the head, then bring the crown of the head down on to the mat. There shouldn’t be too much weight in the head and the neck should feel supported by the ‘basket’ of the hands. The key now is to press firmly down into the forearms, lift up out of the shoulders and armpits, tuck the toes and lift the bum up. Without collapsing in the shoulder girdle, creep the toes towards the elbows so that the bum comes over the shoulders. At this point you can try tucking one heel in towards the bum and lifting the knee towards you so that eventually the toe of the straight leg will start to hover off. Then if you feel steady you can begin to raise one leg at a time in to the air. Once the legs are up you need to engage them by squeezing knees and ankles in towards each other, squeeze the buttocks and tuck the ribs under which will help to keep you straight. Never kick the legs up as you are very likely to go straight over!! The trick is to go up as slowly as possible with control – this takes a lot of core strength but will keep you safe!
2. For forearm balance, the set up of the arms is the same, but place the hands down on the mat and spread fingers wide. Lift the bum and hips and creep toes towards you, keeping the head lifted. This is a huge hamstring stretch so if your legs feel far away from the elbows it will be harder to get up. Again NO kicking into this move – once you are pressing firmly down in to the forearms, lift one leg into the air and then lift high on to the toes of the other leg so you are in a kind of standing split. Try then to raise the standing leg a little higher with the aim of getting the other toe to float off. Once you are up, try for some L shape legs which help to lift the legs – once they are in the air try and magnetise the legs together and squeeze knees, ankles and glutes. Some people find it easier to gaze down rather than forward in this pose – but you must try what works for your individual body.
1. How do you know if you’re doing them right? – You know when you are doing the pose correctly when you don’t feel pressure in your neck but in your arms, shoulders and core and you can breathe fully. Once you are up you will feel relatively steady if you are doing things correctly.
2. How can someone modify these moves? You can always come to a wall as long as you are still not tempted to kick up. In headstand it is quite nice to have both knees in towards the chest with the heels in at the bum hovering before you go up with the legs in the air – this builds the strength in the right places. For forearm stand, practicing with one leg in the air and coming as high as you can on to the other toes is a great way to get the body and mind prepared for where they need to go!
3. What are the benefits of these moves? – Inversions are not only amazing for building strength, but reversing the flow of blood gives the heart a break and sends more supply to the brain. This can be physically invigorating but it also changes our perspective by being upside down so gives us a mental break as well.
4. What are the most common mistakes you see with these moves? Kicking up without the correct arm and shoulder alignment. Collapsing in to the neck and shoulders – you really need to lift up out of them to support ourselves.
5. What are some things every yogi should know about these moves? They are big moves and require effort and patience – this is why it’s called a practice! There is no magic dust for getting in to these postures I’m afraid – strength training, perseverance and good guidance are a must!