I have heard many differing opinions on the value of Headstand. Some claim it to be one of if not the most important single posture. Others claim that it is dangerous and should be avoided. Here is what Sri K. Pattabhi Jois says about Headstand in his book Yoga Mala.
"Aspirants should note that merely putting the head down and legs up, and then standing upside down is not Headstand; very simply, this is wrong... The proper method for it must be carefully learned. For example, the entire body must stand upside down on the strength of the arms alone."
"Some say that practitioners should stay in this asana for only two to five minutes; otherwise, harm could come to them. It must be stressed, however, that this is not correct, as the following scriptural saying attests: 'We can dwell in Headstand for three hours'... To be able to stay in Headstand for three hours, an aspirant should begin by practicing it first for five, then ten, and then fifteen minutes, that is, he should gradually increase the time in the state of Headstand by increments of five minutes. In this way and by force of slowly practicing over many days, months, and years, an aspirant should be able to stay in the asana for a full three hours... However, if an aspirant stays in the state of Headstand for one to five minutes, or even less than a minute, he will not get the specified benefits."
In this, Headstand isn't much different from other postures. It can injure us if we do it improperly. But if we do it properly it will bring us health and strength.
He goes on to say that Headstand should always be the final posture in our practice. "Following Headstand, they should only sit in Padmasana [Lotus Pose] and do pranayama and the like, but no further asanas."
After coming out of Headstand, he says we should "rest with the buttocks on the heels and the head on the floor for two minutes."
Please do not take this entry to be an encouragement to start practicing Headstand for 3 hours a day. Like Pattabhi Jois says, we must be sure to do the posture correctly, with the guidance of a qualified teacher. Then we must have patience and perseverance to practice for months and years building our strength and endurance.
This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga