In Ashtanga Yoga, there are a total of seven headstands in Second Series. Some are more challenging than others, but with a little practice, you can master them all. At first, try doing all seven separately, and when you feel stable enough, try moving through all seven without letting your feet touch the ground.
If you've already mastered a basic headstand in yoga, it's time to try a variation called the Hands Free Headstand (also called Palms Up Headstand). I know it looks like it defies gravity, but once you figure out how to distribute your weight evenly across the head and hands, it will feel as easy as the basic headstand you already know.
Here's the trick:
- Begin with your hands and knees on the mat. Lower the top of your head to the floor so it's in front of your hands, as if you're about to do a Tripod Headstand. You'll know your head is in the right position because your elbows will be directly over your wrists and you'll be able to see your hands.
- Once your head and hands feel stable, straighten both legs in front of you; then straighten your arms so they're parallel with your legs. Your hands should be shoulder-width distance apart with your palms facing up. Spread your fingers as wide as you can to provide more stability.
- Step your feet onto your hands.
- Shift your hips over your shoulders and actively press the backs of your hands firmly into the mat. Use your hands and your abs to lift both legs up into the air. If you can't lift your legs up, then gently kick one leg up at a time, coming into Hands Free Headstand. Keep your legs together and point through the balls of your feet.
- Hold this pose for five deep breaths. Then slowly lower your feet to the floor.