Headstand and Shoulderstand Yoga Inversion Sequence

1
Headstand

Woman practicing yoga headstand
Granger Wootz / Getty Images

Inversions are poses in which your head is lower than your heart. Inversions can improve your balance and core strength.

This sequence of inversions starts with a Headstand. For more detailed instructions, see how to do a headstand with step by step photos. Practice at the wall if you are not comfortable in the middle of the room. Another option is to just do the preparatory version of the pose, in which you do not fully invert.

Headstand Instructions

  1. Start on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Bring your elbows to the floor and interlace your fingers.
  3. Place the crown of your head into your cupped fingers.
  4. Bring your hips up and walk your feet towards your head until your hips are over your shoulders.
  5. Kick up one leg and then the other.
  6. Press down into your forearms to keep all your weight from coming into your neck and head.
  7. Extend up through the balls of your feet and rotate your thigh bones inward slightly.
  8. Hold for at least 10 breaths.

2
Plow Pose: Halasana

Plow Pose - Halasana. © Barry Stone

After Headstand, come to lie on your back and bring yourself into Plow Pose. Plow and Shoulderstand are good follow-ups to headstand because they stretch the neck out, relieving any compression.

Plow Pose Instructions

  1. Lying on your back, tuck your shoulder blades under.
  2. Lift your legs to 90 degrees and pause. Then lift your butt and use your abs to bring your feet up and over your head until your toes touch the floor behind your head. Keep your legs straight.
  3. Lack your fingers behind your back and straighten your arms.
  4. Roll your shoulders under one at a time.
  5. It's hard to breathe in this position, but try to stay for five deep breaths. You will go into Shoulderstand from this position.

3
Shoulderstand: Salamba Sarvangasana

Shoulderstand With a Blanket
Shoulderstand With a Blanket. Debra McClinton/Taxi/Getty Images

From Plow, bring yourself into Shoulderstand. To keep your neck safe, refrain from turning your head to either side while you are in this pose. Instead, keep your gaze straight up towards your toes. A blanket under your shoulders will help prevent flattening of the cervical spine.

Shoulderstand Instructions

  1. From Plow pose, bend your elbows and bring your hands onto your back with your fingertips facing upward. The hands should come to about the middle of your back. You should only be elbows shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift your feet up off the floor toward the ceiling. You may need to lift them up one at a time.
  3. Lift up through the balls of your feet.
  4. Move your hips toward the front of the room and your feet toward the back of the room to straighten the body.
  5. Stay in the pose for up to 10 breaths.
  6. To come out, bring your feet back over your head to come through plow pose. You will go into Ear Pressure Pose from this position.

4
Ear Pressure Pose: Karnapidasana

How to Do Ear Pressure Pose - Karnapidasana
Ear Pressure Pose - Karnapidasana. Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

From Plow pose, drop your knees to either side of your head, pressing your knees close to the ears, as you come into Karnapidasana.

Take at least five breaths before releasing your arms and rolling out of the pose.

5
Fish Pose: Matsyasana

Fish Pose - Matsyasana
Fish Pose - Matsyasana. © Ann Pizer

Roll out onto your back and remove any blankets you may have used in Shoulderstand. Arch your back and support yourself by planting your elbows and forearms on the ground. Tilt your head back until your crown is resting on the floor in Fish Pose.

6
Fish Variation I

Fish Variation I. © Ann Pizer

Engage your core to raise your legs up off the floor.

7
Fish Variation II

Fish Variation II. © Ann Pizer

Bring the arms up towards the ceiling with the palms pressed together. Hold this ​position for several breaths before coming to lie flat on your back for a rest.

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