Ah, the elusive headstand. It can be the pose that draws people to yoga in the first place—or it repels them away entirely because they don’t ever want to have to try it. 

Sure, the headstand pose can be to flex on your Instagram, but yoga as a whole, and the headstand specifically, is truly about so much more than looking like a badass. There is an incredible amount of concentration, patience, balance, humility, strength, breath, and control that comes with finding your way to balancing on your head—all of which translates off the mat too. 

But as you can probably tell from simply looking at photos of the headstand pose, it’s not exactly a simple one to execute. As a result, there’s also a risk of injury if you rush the process and just try to throw yourself up there. And many people try to do just that, by kicking their way to a headstand.

So let’s get this out of the way. Please, I beg you, don’t kick your way to a headstand! As a yoga instructor, I’m like a broken record in my classes about this: If you ask my students what my number one rule is when it comes to the headstand, they’ll answer loudly, in unison, “No kicking!” I don’t allow kicking for a handful of reasons, the biggest one being that it can set the stage for injury. Kicking up inherently involves momentum, and momentum when someone is trying to balance on their head—which, of course, is attached to their neck and part of their spine—is just a recipe for no, nope, and nuh-uh. Head and spinal injuries can be very dangerous and can cause long-term damage. Besides upping the risk of injury, relying on momentum also means that you may lack the proper control, strength, or mobility in your core or upper body to get into the optimal position to go up to headstand. Most of the time, people are kicking because they can’t get themselves up otherwise.