“Sirsasana is really a blessing and a nectar. Words will fail to adequately describe it’s beneficial results and effects. In this asana alone, the brain can draw plenty of Prana and blood. This acts against the force of gravity and draws an abundance of blood from the heart. Memory increases admirably. Lawyers, occultists and thinkers will higher benefit from this asana. This leads to a natural pranayama and Samadhi by itself. No other effort is necessary.” – Swami Sivananda
Speaking of Sivananda yoga specifically, the session consists of a 12 asana set sequence. First up is headstand, being one of the most important! Whilst this may seems intimidating at first, Sivananda yoga works to greatly strengthen and prepare the body for all asanas. With time and consistency the practitioner will begin to notice tremendous and transformational changes to the body and mind, often surprising oneself of his or hers capabilities.
Sirsasana or headstand is known as ‘King of asanas’ for it’s incredibly profound and powerful effects on the body, as well as the on mind. By standing on our head, we reverse our usual gravitational effects and flow in the body. This gives our hard working heart a rest, and allows a rich blood supply to pump easily straight to the chest, neck and brain. Mastering headstand requires no great strength, it does however require concentration, confidence, flexibility and a strong sense of balance and control. What is extremely important, is how one gets into the pose correctly and safely to avoid causing any harm or injury. * See below for any contraindications.
How do I correctly get into Sirsasana?
Step by step we’re going to outline exactly how to get into headstand, and equally as important… how to get out. The important thing to remember here is to not push your body if you do not feel ready or strong enough. Practising against a wall can be a great way to build confidence to start off. One should have already warmed up the body, and have been practising yoga for some time before attempting headstand. Sirsasana is considered to be an intermediate- advanced yoga pose.
Step 1: Kneeling on your mat, measure the distance between your elbows with your hands.
Step 2: From here place your elbows down on the mat and rest your weight on your forearms. It’s important to maintain the position of your elbows throughout.
Step 3: Interlock your fingers in front of you, creating a tripod for your balance.
Step 4: Place the back of your head (the crown) on the mat against your clasped fingers, making a firm foundation for the inversion
Step 5: Tuck in the toes and lift the hips, without bending the knees at first walk your feet as close to your head as possible, making sure the neck is not bent and the spine is in a straight line.
Step 6: Once your hips are situated over the shoulders, bend the knees bringing them into the chest, pulling your hips backwards.
Step 7: Pausing at this point, keep knees tucked in until your feel stable and balanced in this position. Avoid jumping up. Be sure to control the breathe and use the core to stabilise your body. One should be able to maintain this position for at least 10 seconds before attempting to straighten out the legs.
Step 8: Keeping the knees bent at first, slowly lift them up towards the ceiling, whilst engaging the core, begin to straighten out the legs. Try to shift most of your body weight on the forearms, and relieve any pressure from the head and neck. The body weight should be supported around 80% by forearms and shoulders, and only roughly 20% on the crown of the head.
Step 9: Being careful to come down correctly and in a controlled manner, draw the knees into the chest, bringing one foot down to the mat, returning to your original position. Keeping the abdominal muscles engaged will aid a smooth and slow exit.
Step 10: Finish in childs pose. This relaxation pose is used to normalize blood circulation and counter-stretch the spine. Bring your forehead to the mat, slow down the breathe and relax in baby pose.
- Maintain hips over shoulders, creating a balanced foundation for your headstand
- Maintain proper breath control throughout
- Find a fixed sport ahead of your to focus your gaze, this will help you to stay balanced
- Tuck in the pelvis to avoid front/back imbalances. The hips should be stacked up over the head, and legs stacked accordingly over hips.
- If you feel your weight tipping over and you’re going to fall out of headstand, be sure to roll the spine and come down to the mat with a curved back. (Roly-poly style)
Benefits of Headstand
- Headstand has the ability to wonderfully lifts one’s spirits, filling one with plenty of prana and energy (particularly beneficial when practised first thing in morning before eating or drinking)
- It increases digestive fire and aids digestion and improves organ function
- Headstand is said to improve memory and concentration skills
- This pose greatly strengthens all muscles in the body, especially those in the arms, shoulders and upper body
- Optimizing nutrient flow to the head, scalp and brain; this asana can even work to improve hair growth and aspect of the skin (even slowing down grey hairs)
- Helping to draw and focus energy within, headstand will reduce stress, anxiety and depression
- By reversing the effect and flow of gravity, we reduce pressure on our hips, legs, feet and ankles, decreasing built up fluids
- Sirsasana improves and stimulates our lymphatic system which is responsible for removal of waste and toxins in the blood, who knew you could detox whilst standing on our head!
*People with high blood pressure and glaucoma should avoid Sirsasana, including those who have suffered from neck pain or injuries
It is best not to practice headstand during menstruation or pregnancy.
For any questions feel free to drop me a message through my homepage. Subscribe to receive free and educational yoga articles straight to your inbox!