Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)

Type: Inversion
Level: Advanced

Stand up on your knees and place the hands on the mat. Lower your head on the mat and move your legs closer to your torso. Find your balance before lifting the feet and then gradually lift the feet off the ground, straightening your legs up. Balance on your head with your arms supporting your balance.

Props & Assistance:
Practice against a wall to help until you are comfortable with the balance.


  • Hands clasped with forearms around the head
  • Tripod with palms at either side of the head and elbows bent
  • Scorpion style – back bend
  • Scissor legs
  • Crossed legs
  • Lotus legs

Preparatory poses:
Good preparation poses for headstand are below as well as a brief note on how they help:

  • Cat/Cow stretch – brings awareness to shoulders and upper back
  • Plank – engage core and also help get used to straight body alignment
  • Boat – engage core and feel balance
  • Dolphin plank – engages the core and also helps get used to straight body alignment
  • Downward dog – get used to be upside down, also shoulder opening
  • Standing forward fold – get used to being upside down
  • Wide legged standing forward bend – get used to be upside down
  • Cow face – shoulder opening
  • Baddha Hatasana – shoulder opening
  • Shoulder stand – get used to the sensation of being upside down and holding a straight body
  • Bound/Supported headstand

Follow up poses:
This pose prepares you for:

  • Wide legged forward fold to Headstand transition
  • Headstand to crow transition (and then onto Chaturanga Dandasana)
  • Arm balances
  • Handstand

Counter poses:

  • Childs – help decompress the neck, relieve muscular tension, and provide you with a few moments of stillness to feel the benefits of the inversion
  • Downward dog – relax neck and let the head hang
  • Fish
  • Shoulder stand
  • Neck therapy
  • Corpse


  • Improved concentration
  • Improved function of internal organs
  • Nourish the skin of the face
  • Calms the body and mind
  • Relieves stress and tension
  • Strengthens the shoulders and the upper back muscles
  • Strengthens the abdominals
  • Brings better circulation to the neck and brain
  • Helps varicose veins
  • Increases stamina


  • Neck, back shoulder, ear, eye problems
  • High / low blood pressure
  • Menstruation
  • Certain heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Reflux
  • Pregnancy – only practice if you were comfortable with this position before pregnancy as there is a fall risk. Even if you were comfortable prior to pregnancy you might want to avoid practising later in pregnancy as the body balance will be different and anything that presents a fall risk should be avoided.
  • This is an advanced posture and advisable that you practice under the guidance of an instructor
  • If you are thinking of starting yoga and have a medical condition, it is advisable to check with your doctor

Written by Sarah Williams. Sarah is a Qualified Yoga Teacher based in London with an online presence on Instagram and Facebook. She also blogs about yoga and health & wellbeing topics on her website. Sarah’s focus is Vinyasa Flow, Hatha and Ashtanga styles of yoga and she completed part of her yoga teacher training in India . https://sarahlucyyoga.wixsite.com/yoga, @sarahlucyyoga


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