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What Is a Headstand?

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  • Written By: Clara Kedrek
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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A headstand is a pose that requires people to balance on their heads, typically using their arms for support. This inverted upright position is employed in a number of activities including yoga, gymnastics, and break dancing. Although the benefits of headstands include increased muscle strength and improved balance, there are also some risks involved with this pose.

Learning how to do a headstand can be a challenging task that requires a good amount of balance and upper body strength. The best way to begin learning how to do this pose is to practice the tripod position. In this posture, the head rests on the ground and the hands are placed laterally to the head, thus forming a triangle. The knees are then placed on the elbows, and the person tries to balance. As the person becomes comfortable and stable in the tripod position, she can kick her legs up straight and achieve a full headstand.

Yoga uses headstands as one of the asanas, or poses, assumed during the practice of this discipline. Often people practicing yoga are taught a modified form of the headstand in which the forearms lay flat on the ground to support the head and body. According to the philosophy of yoga, inverted poses offer the user health benefits by redistributing the blood flow in the body towards the head.

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Students in the sport of gymnastics also learn how to do headstands. It is considered to be a beginning pose, and helps improve students’ balance, core muscle strength, and flexibility. After mastering this pose, students are taught more advanced techniques such as handstands and handsprings.

Break dancers also incorporate the headstand into their performances. Often the headstands that break dancers do involve balancing on the head without the support of the arms or hands. Performers often attempt to do different maneuvers from this position such as spinning on the tops of their heads.

Some people think that doing headstands can have health benefits. Indeed, practicing this pose can increase muscle strength and balance. Although some people think that the rush of blood to the head people feel while they are in the position can be beneficial, there is no medical evidence that this will improve their health. In fact, the alterations of pressure in the body could result in the bursting of small blood vessels in the face and eyes. Additionally, inexperienced people attempting to do a headstand could injure their necks as they practice trying to achieve this pose.

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