6 Tips For Doing A Headstand, From A Yoga Teacher Who Loves Getting Upside Down
Take a moment to scroll through the yoga hashtag on Instagram, and you'll likely be bombarded with impressive photos of bendy yogis flipping their perspective in headstands and handstands galore. And while you might love your weekly, stress-relieving yoga sessions, maybe part of you's itching to try some of these more advanced asanas. If you're looking for tips for doing headstands in your yoga practice, I got the inside scoop from a yogi who's all about getting upside down, and can teach you the moves you need to nail forearm stands, handstands, and basically any inversion you can dream of.
In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Kirsty Tavolacci, a yoga instructor based in South Carolina, and the co-creator of the ebook HIIT to Invert, reveals how she became the inversion sensation that she is today on Instagram, where she posts daily yoga photos and videos under the handle @tiny.kirsty for her 57,000 devoted followers.
"I started my own inversion practice in yoga by watching others," Tavolacci says. "I was extremely inspired by those who could effortlessly float their feet above their body."
As a former competitive cheerleader, Tavolacci says the sport really helped her conquer the fear of getting upside down in her yoga poses in a huge way. For those of us without a history of cheering, though, getting upside down can be pretty freaking terrifying.
"If you have a fear of getting inverted, my advice would be to take it easy," she tells Elite Daily. "Remind yourself that it’s not scary. It is simply just out of your comfort zone, and it will take some getting used to."
All it really takes, she says, is a little patience and a lot of practice. Here are her six tricks for nailing any yoga inversion your heart desires.
1. Practice Every Day
If you pride yourself on being lazy AF, inversions probably aren't for you, friend. Though flipping your perspective and getting upside down is definitely accessible for all, Tavolacci says it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.
"My first suggestion if you want to start inversions is to do it EVERY DAY!" she tells Elite Daily. "Even if you do it for only five minutes, consistency is key here."
The Insta-famous yoga teacher admits she's had a bit of an advantage with her cheerleading background, but one of her biggest challenges has been learning how to hold an inversion for more than 30 seconds.
"For handstands, I started my yoga practice being able to kick up for maybe one whole second," Tavolacci explains. "So even though I had a background in cheerleading, actually balancing, and ‘effortlessly’ holding myself in proper alignment. took a lot of dedication and practice."
You heard it here first, people. Practice, practice, and then, practice some more.
2. Supplement With Other Strengthening Workouts
What's unique about Tavolacci, and what likely explains why her inversion practice is so freaking strong, is that she's used her knowledge of high-intensity interval training workouts (HIIT) and yoga to create the HIIT to INVERT ebook.
"My friend Heather Barb and I met quite early in my yoga journey, and after months of inversion practice together, we decided to create an ebook [so that people could have] workouts geared toward getting started with inversions," Tavolacci tells Elite Daily.
The ebook is broken into four sections: headstand, handstand, forearm stand, and straddle press. TBH, it's like a buffet to satisfy all of your inversion cravings.
"Each of these sections has two different HIIT circuits to help you build the strength, confidence, and flexibility to start or enhance your inversion and yoga practice," the yogi explains.
If you want to flip your perspective, just HIIT it, girlfriend. Ha. Ha.
3. Core Work Is Key
One of Tavolacci's golden rules is to always, always, always give your core an extra bit of a challenge whenever you can.
"I believe core strength is one of the biggest ‘secrets’ for inversion," she tells Elite Daily. "When people think core strength, they think abs, which is true. However, you have Bandhas, which are deep-down core muscles that help stabilize your pelvic floor and brace your core."
Engaging and learning how to engage those Bandhas muscles, she says, is key to any inversion practice. The HIIT to Invert ebook dives into this concept a lot more, if you want to expand your knowledge.
4. Use The Wall As A Helping Hand
As an avid yogi myself, I can definitely attest to the fact that the wall was my BFF when I first started my inversion practice, and Tavolacci agrees, saying she couldn't have gotten where she is now without this trick.
"When I first began, I used the wall a lot to help [with] balancing. I think the wall is a very important tool in overcoming a fear of falling," she explains.
The wall can help you find proper alignment, Tavolacci tells Elite Daily, and it can make it easier to engage the proper muscles in your body, and bring your hips over your shoulders when it's time to invert.
She does advise, however, to not let the wall become a "crutch." You have to break free at some point, she says, and it's important not to become too reliant on this stabilizing tool.
"My suggestion here is, once you get comfortable enough kicking up to the wall, try facing your belly to the wall and walking your body and hands in closest to the wall," she explains. "This helps prevent any ‘banana’ back you may get, as this is very common in the beginning."
Basically, once you get away from the wall, she says, you'll be able to focus more heavily on proper alignment and building overall strength. Remember: Learning how to invert is a journey, not a race.
5. Always Warm Up Beforehand
To prevent any yoga injuries in your practice, especially when it comes to inversions, Tavolacci says it's super important to make sure you warm up beforehand.
"An injury that I seem to get every few months is a wrist injury. Being on my hands a lot, I tend to overuse my wrist," she tells Elite Daily. "A major key I suggest when beginning your inversion practice is to warm up your wrists — every single time!"
Try some wrist-strengthening and stretching exercises to get those bad boys prepared before you get upside down.
6. Don't Let Fear Sabotage Your Practice
If you've tried implementing all of Tavolacci's tips into your practice, but you're still super timid when it comes time to invert, it's likely because you're getting in your own head, she says, and blocking your own way.
"Inversions are a fear that most beginner yogis have and honestly, you just have to [take the plunge and do it]!" she tells Elite Daily. "Once you start to see progress in your inversions, you won’t want to stop."
Remember: Be safe, know your limits, practice a lot, and above all, have fun. Happy inverting, yogis!