For many new to yoga, mastering a headstand ¾ or sirsasana [shear-SHAHS-ahna], in yoga-speak ¾ shows everyone in your class that you’re no newbie.
It is a physical achievement, for one thing, and it’s said to bring health benefits, including improved mood, increased mental focus and better digestion, among others. And being upside-down just looks impressive.
But some people shouldn’t try headstands, no matter how cool it looks.
They include pregnant women, unless they are experienced yoga practitioners; kids 7 or younger; anyone with a heart condition, glaucoma or high blood pressure; those who suffer from frequent or acute migraines; and those with neck or shoulder pain or osteoporosis.
Scientists say performing a headstand can put as much as 48% of a person’s full body weight on their noggin. That’s a hefty lift.
For those with neck or spine arthritis or degeneration, headstands can spell trouble.
And the blood that rushes to the head can be bad news for someone with glaucoma, because it can put undue pressure on the optic nerve. Anyone taking anticoagulants should also steer clear.
If you don’t have a health condition that would make headstands too risky, your doctor deems it safe and you can’t resist the urge to try, experts do offer sound advice.
Find an experienced yoga instructor. Start by holding the pose briefly and build duration. And if anything is uncomfortable or causes pain, stop immediately.
The physical, mental and emotional benefits of practicing yoga won’t be much help if you’re injured. Who cares if you can’t do a headstand? Take a deep, cleansing breath and let it go …