One pose in yoga that gets heralded as a “bucket list” pose is the headstand. A challenging balancing strength inversion and meditative pose. The problem is that not everyone should be attempting headstands, but that doesn’t mean they cannot enjoy the benefits of inversions. Simply that they need to use props, like a yoga headstand bench.
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Admittedly I’ve had a love hate relationship with headstands. The problem? Because I have a degree of hyper-mobility in my shoulder, and for a long time I just didn’t trust their stability. Then I realized I am strong, and trust them in side planks. So the issue is, I don’t trust MYSELF upside down. Which is why I spent a long time working with a yoga headstand bench. To get my core strong, and learn to trust in myself inverted.
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What is a yoga headstand bench
In a nutshell a yoga headstand bench is like a four-legged stool, with a small cut out. Leaving a U-shape for your head to fit inside, and enable you to invert and come upside down. The bench is padded to support the body.
They now come in many styles to suit your decor. But the best part is that since gaining in popularity over recent years the price has decreased significantly. When I bought mine in 2015 there were 3 to choose from on Amazon, now there and 1000’s. Currently, you can buy a headstand bench for around $60-$80
Who should use a headstand stool
There are many contraindications for headstands. People who shouldn’t be doing them include: young children, glaucoma, high blood pressure, heart issues, pregnancy, migraines and those with head, neck or shoulder injuries.
However, those with neck or shoulder injuries can ask their medical provider if using an inversion bench is safe for them. Because there is no stress or pressure on the upper body it’s a much safer way to practice inversions.
One other reason that you should use a yoga headstand stool is as a preparation for headstands. The trickiest thing for many is simply being upside down. While dolphin pose can help with set up, time spent inverted in a headstand bench is invaluable in acquiring the subtle adjustments in posture needed to stay inverted.
How to use a Yoga Headstand Bench
When first using a headstand bench I advise having it about 8″ away from a wall. This will give you a little psychological support. Kneel towards the bench and place your head into the U-shaped hole.
Draw the navel to the spine, tuck the toes and extent the legs. Walk the legs in towards the stool, coming into a pike or dolphin position. Hugging the elbows inwards, and keeping the abs drawn in, lift the legs up. You can do this one leg at a time, “kicking” up. Or, once you’re experienced, practice coming into a ball and rolling up from your pike position.
And viola! Headstand, without the pressure on the head, neck and shoulders. This is where having the wall behind initially helps. Beginners often get freaked out and having the wall behind is insurance that they aren’t going to flip all the way back into a somersault. From here you can hold for time. Beginners can work on time with the legs away from the wall. More advanced inversion practitioners can play with poses inverted or core exercises.
One thing to remember when working the core on the headstand bench is that asymmetrical exercises (single leg) will be more challenging than symmetrical exercises. So bear that in mind. In the future, I hope to do some classes using the headstand bench because they are so useful as a yoga prop. Let me know
- Have you used a headstand bench before?
- Do you practice inversions like headstands?
- Are there poses in yoga you struggle with?