Dolphin to Headstand Transition: Learning the King of Poses

dolphin to headstand transition

For many yogis, mastering dolphin to headstand transition means we are no longer beginners. Yogis often refer to headstand is the “king of poses.” That’s because many benefits occur when we turn upside down and reverse the usual direction of our blood flow.

The benefits of headstand—when practiced safely—include increased blood flow to the brain, help for headaches and migraines, stress relief, and a better complexion.

Start with Dolphin Pose Before Learning Headstand

Many yogis learn dolphin pose as a prep for headstand. Both poses are wonderful inversions. If you don’t feel comfortable with headstands yet, you can stay in dolphin pose.

To practice the dolphin to headstand transition, start in downward-facing dog with your arms shoulder distance apart and lower your elbows to the floor, either one at a time or both at the same time. Have your fingers spread wide and your head in line with your upper arms. Press down through the heels to engage the legs.

Dolphin to Headstand Transition

When learning headstand, most yogis do not go into the pose directly from dolphin, but once you’ve mastered dolphin, you’ll be prepared to practice headstand with more ease.

To move into headstand from dolphin, come down to your knees, cross your arms, and hold opposite elbows to measure the correct distance between them.

Interlace your fingers and create a triangle with your fists and your elbows. With your bottom still lifted, start walking your feet towards your hands as far as you can, press firmly into your forearms and engage your core.

Once you can’t walk any further, pull in your leg by bringing your knee to your chest and ankle to your bottom, one leg at a time. Keep breathing steadily. If you feel pain in your neck, come out of the pose. Either stay here to build up strength, or slowly begin to lift both legs up to the ceiling, engaging your core as much as you can. Keep your neck long.

Your Weight Should Not be On Your Head

Always remember when practicing headstand that most of your weight should be on your arms, not your head! This will protect your neck from injury. If you haven’t guessed, you’ll need a strong core to do headstand safely.

If you’re an advanced practitioner, you can press up with straight legs or lift one leg and then pull the other up (the latter variation isn’t recommended for beginners because it is less stable). Point your feet towards the ceiling while taking deep breaths.

Stay in the pose for as long as it feels comfortable, then lower your legs back down with control. You can pull your knees into the chest or keep your legs straight and lower down.

Relax in Child’s Pose

After coming out of headstand, you’ll want to pause and feel the benefits of the pose. You can do this by resting in child’s pose. Sit on your heels with your knees either open or together and lower your upper body to the ground. Your arms can be by your side or out in front. Relax here and notice how you feel. Remain in child’s pose at least until you feel the blood return down from your head.

For many yogis, mastering the dolphin to headstand transition means they are no longer beginners. It usually means you’ve built enough strength and fearlessness to do a pose that may once have felt impossible.

Is headstand part of your practice? If so, what did you notice the first time you did the “king of poses”?

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Maria Kuzmiak

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