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I have started including daily headstand in the morning (sinsasana). It feels like the most relaxing posture I have ever experienced.

But, from time to time, (too often for my taste), I do feel something in the neck that annoys me, almost the beginning of a pain.

I suppose it is a question of equilibrium and that my weight is not well spread upon my head, and my hands.

As I have no yoga instructor, I'm wondering:

  • What are the principles for a correct headstand ? How to avoid possibles injuries ? When to know that the headstand is good ?

For the moment I cannot stand longer than 3 minutes, I do 1-2 minutes most of the time. I have been told one can safely do 10 to 15 minutes. But I would prefer not to take bad habits in this posture.


Edit: as stressed in one of the answer below:

  • it is not a good practice to be timing the headstand, we should listen to our body.
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Don't put so much weight in your head. Push down through the forearms and lift through the shoulders. Almost no weight should be on the head. My teachers have told me 90% in the forearms/shoulders and 10% in the head.

It's usually easier to accomplish this if you hold elbows tighter together. In the beginning, they're usually to splayed apart. Other pointers that are generic, but usually apply are; pull lower ribs into towards the spine, to lessen any arch in the lower back. Push through the heels of the feet, to raise up.

One good tip is to use a camera and film. Then you see the alignment.

Regarding time, it's individual. Ease into it. Don't go to fast, and always counterpose afterwards.

Hope this helps.

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"..., I do feel something in the neck that annoys me, almost the beginning of a pain."

Hello Stephanie, you should take seriously this "almost" pain. Your cervical spine is important to your health, and your body may be telling you something you should listen to.

Whoever told you that "...one can safely do [a headstand] 10 to 15 minutes", is not correct. Perhaps some people can do a headstand for 15 minutes safely, but other people can not. For example, people with osteopenia should not do headstands. Also, headstands should not be practices by people with Glaucoma.

More fundamentally, I would recommend that you not time your headstands at all, and instead tune into your body. When your headstand doesn't feel absolutely right, that is when you stop. Let your body be the guide, not a stopwatch. The same thing applies to planks. People at the gym like to brag that they can do a two minute or five minute plank, but if you watch them, the last minute their body is badly contorted; their scapulas are winging, and their neck is in a forward head position. That extra minute isn't worth it in the long run, in my opinion.

I come from the worlds of ballet and authentic pilates (i.e. reformer, tower, wunda chair), and in my years of doing these disciplines I have never once witnessed anyone timing how long they can do something.

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  • Thanks. I took seriously that almost pain, and that was the reason of my question ;-). I have stopped each time my body told me to, that the is reason I do only 1-2 minutes headstands whereas I know I can stand 3 minutes at least. Thanks for the clear reminder, it was not that clear in my mind though. The timing comes from the fact that Nehru (IIRC) was starting his days with a 15 minutes headstand, and he claimed that was part of his routine for having a clear mind. It is an important message that one should listen to its body as you stressed it. – Stephane Rolland Oct 1 '19 at 9:31
  • @Stephane Sorry if I judged you too harshly. I'm sure you are listening to your body. – Chris Oct 2 '19 at 2:07
  • I had a part of my mind focussed on roughly estimating how long I was headstanding by counting the breaths. Since your remark I'm much more focussed on the body, and the two headstands I've done since yesterday were much better equilibrated! Your point of view is sincerely appreciated. – Stephane Rolland Oct 2 '19 at 10:24

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