MOARyoga Moves: Tripod Headstand

VIDEO HOW-TO: Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana) to Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana II)

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A note of caution: before attempting this, make sure you are practicing with an experienced teacher that you trust. This is an advanced move, involving lots of core strength and proper alignment to avoid injuring the neck. Don’t let the ego cloud your judgement here yogis.


  1.  Stand facing the long edge of your mat. Step or hop your feet 3 to 4 1/2 feet apart (play around to see what feels comfortable in your body). Look down and make sure your inner arches are parallel with feet ever-so-slightly pigeon-toed. Lift through the inner arches by drawing up from the inner ankles to the groin, and press the outer edges of your feet firmly into the mat. Engage your quads by lifting the knee caps. Place your hands on your hips, inhale deeply and lift your chest, spreading your collarbone wide.
  2. Exhale and fold forward from the hip crease, keeping your back flat and spine long. With your chest about parallel to the floor, bring your hands to the mat, fingertips in line with your toes.
  3. Breath deeply and with each exhalation, bend your elbows and lower your torso and head until you come into your full forward bend. Make sure don’t lose that flat back and long spine. If it’s in your practice, rest the crown of your head on the floor.
  4. Press your palms firmly into the floor. If you have the flexibility to get your head to the mat, walk your hands back until your forearms are perpendicular to the floor and your upper arms parallel – creating a shelf with your arms. Make sure your arms are parallel to each other and widen the shoulder blades across the back.
  5. Now for some levitation! Again, moving from Prasarita Padottanasana to Tripod Headstand is a very advanced move. Do not just flail and fly into this.
  6. Draw in through your core, pulling belly button to spine and knitting your ribs together to engage the transverse abdominals. Shift your weight  forward into the balls of your feet, until your hips come over and slightly past your ankles. You will begin to take some of your weight into the arms and crown of your head.
  7. Engage your legs, pulling up through your groin and firing up the quads and inner and outer thighs. Using the power of your legs and strength of your core slowly pull legs up and over head, moving from an inverted wide-legged straddle to full tripod headstand. Spark your toes and keep your legs and abs engaged – this will help you find lightness and draw up and away from the neck and head. Hold for a few deeps breaths.
  8. To come out, reverse your ascent and slowly lower legs into a wide-legged straddle then gently set them down on the mat (I like to focus on keeping my hips shifted forward on the descent because it keeps my core engaged and gives me the control I need to move slowly).
  9. Now you’re back in prasarita padottanasana. Finish the move by lifting your head off the floor and coming into a flat-back position with your torso parallel to the mat – your arms will straighten but keep your palms and/or fingertips on the mat. With an inhalation, lift your hands to your hips, pull your tail bone down toward the floor, and raise the torso up.

You did it! That was some serious core work and involves a somewhat-scary weight shift. Playing around with the first five steps until you can comfortably get into a full forward fold. Once you’ve got that down, then go for it – but make sure that for your first few attempts you have an experienced yoga teacher or yogi friend nearby to make sure you got in and out of the asana properly.

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