How to Do a Yoga Headstand

The Sirsasana yoga pose turns you upside down. Learn how to do both the traditional and tripod headstand.

The idea of standing on your head may seem impossible at first. But with some practice, you can work toward conquering this challenging yoga inversion. Of course, this is no easy feat to accomplish without plenty of core and upper-body strength.

A little patience helps, too. “Inversions take time to master, but practicing regularly and working at your own pace will make this goal attainable,” says yoga instructor Rachel Calhoun, a Health Fitness Specialist of Corporate Fitness Works. “Let go of your doubts and the floor to discover this rejuvenating inversion.”


Aside from being a fun pose to hold, Sirsasana has other added benefits. This pose works on maintaining your balance. The yoga headstand can help strengthen your shoulders and arms. But staying balanced doesn’t rest solely in your upper body. Your core also plays an integral role in keeping you up in the air.


Make note of these tips before you get started on your headstand variation.

  • Use a block or a book to find the flattest part of your head. Sit up straight and adjust the block until you’re able to balance it.
  • If you’re new to the pose, set up your mat about a foot away from a wall for support. As you build strength and balance, gradually move away from the wall.
  • Try folding your mat over onto itself to create a small cushion for your head.
  • You can build upper body and core strength for headstands by practicing the plank pose, crow pose and chaturanga.



For a good headstand, you need a good foundation.

  • Start on all fours with your shoulders positioned over your wrists and your hips over your knees.
  • Interlace your fingers and place your forearms parallel on the mat, no more than shoulder-width apart. Your elbows should be parallel with each other in a straight line.
  • Start by bringing your hairline to the mat.
  • Roll forward onto the flattest part of your head.
  • Firm your hands and your forearms into the floor. Your hands should be around your head.
  • Straighten your legs as if you were coming into Downward Facing Dog.
  • Tiptoe your feet forward.
  • Pull one leg into your belly.
  • Pull your other leg toward your belly and pause with bent knees and your toes still on ground.
  • Calhoun recommends lifting your legs then placing your feet back on the ground a few times to firm up the core.
  • If you’re ready to continue, press the balls of your feet to the sky and squeeze your inner thighs.
  • Continue to firm your forearms into the floor. Draw your elbows in slightly and squeeze your shoulders away from your ears.
  • Remember that you’re not balancing all of your weight at one point. Instead, you’re making the tiniest of shifts between the strength of your upper body and the crown of your head.

Getting out of your headstand can be easy. But doing it with control is what will set your headstand apart.

  • Slowly pull your knees back into your chest.
  • Set your feet on the mat.
  • Slowly lower into Child’s Pose and rest.


If you need a modification, this version of a headstand can be used.

  • Place your palms flat in front of you, shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle, so your triceps are parallel to the ground.
  • Gently roll onto the flattest part of your head. Keep your elbows in line with your shoulders.
  • Lift your right knee onto your right triceps and your left knee onto your left triceps. Bring your big toes together to touch, pointing toward the sky.

If you are a beginner, it may be enough to stay here and build strength.

  • When ready to move on, lift your knees off of your arms. Using the combined strength of your arms, core and legs, press the balls of your feet to the sky.
  • Squeeze your core and inner thighs to help maintain balance.
  • Pull your knees back to your elbows and set your feet on the mat.
  • Slowly lower into Child’s Pose and rest.

In addition to regularly practicing your headstand, throw in some extra core work. Then, using these steps as your guide, “you will be upside down sooner than you think,” Calhoun says.

For a more intermediate yoga pose, try the crow pose. This yoga pose also takes time and practice to master.