Headstands are hard. Anyone who’s learned to do the inversion can recall that “OMG! I can’t do this” feeling of those first few dozen attempts. If you’re having a hard time getting the hang of things, there’s a summer-friendly saving grace to this asana you should try: sand.
Next time you’re at the beach, consider how your super-chic towel conveniently doubles as a yoga mat—plus, the fact that the powdery earth beneath it is a whole lot more forgiving than your yoga studio’s floor.
“The most important thing to do is find a flat stretch of sand and make it even flatter by brushing it with your hands.”
For advice on the right way to execute the pose on the shore, I turned to Jenn Perry, co-founder of the new yoga studio Roam in Los Angeles. Perry, who BTW, glows like the ultimate California beach babe, has taught everywhere from Yogaworks to Wanderlust to Yogamaya over the past 10 years.
“The most important thing to do is find a flat stretch of sand and make it even flatter by brushing it with your hands,” she says. “I’d even look for somewhere with wet and compact sand. There’s a realness to finding a rooted quality to rise out of.”
Aside from the perfect location, Perry also stresses that you’ll want to warm up your hamstrings and shoulders before jumping into the asana. Below, you’ll find her favorite exercises for getting ready, plus how to do the inversion and a counter pose for afterwards. The only other thing you’ll need? Natural sunscreen, of course.
Here’s her step-by-step guide to a sandy headstand practice.
Begin in downward-facing dog for a minimum of one minute. Walk your hands back to your feet, which should be hips-width apart, for a forward fold. Clasp opposite elbows and soften your knees, allowing your chest to rest on your thighs. Hold the pose for two minutes.
Slowly roll up to stand, and with one arm raised and one lowered, try to interlock your hands behind your back. Switch sides. If you can’t clasp your hands, hold on to your beach towel in the same pose and pull your arms in opposite directions.
Get down on all fours. Interlace your fingers and place your forearms on the ground with your elbows as wide as your shoulders. With your head off the ground, bring your lower body into downward-facing dog. Stretch your heels down, and with feet together, walk toward your face in dolphin pose and press your shoulder blades into your heart. Hold for 10 breaths and finish the warm-up by resting in child’s pose.
Repeat the steps to come into dolphin pose. Lower the top of your head to the sand against your hands. Draw one knee into your chest and then the other. Extend your legs straight up to the sky. Press strongly through the outer wrists and forearms to minimize the weight on your head. Lift your shoulders away from the ground. Hold for 10 breaths and then get out of the pose by reversing how you got into it.
Get into child’s pose directly after. Move into downward-facing dog and nod your head yes and no.