Shirasasana – Head stand Pose

Shirasasana

Shirasasana – Head Stand Pose

School of Yoga explains Shirasasana (head stand)

School of Yoga explains – Shirasasana technique: (Should be learned under supervision)

  • Sthithi (starting) position: Spread a thick cloth pad against a wall. Kneeling in front of the pad, bend forward and place hands on the spread to form a “V” at an angle of approximately 60 degrees. The palms should be turned facing the body with fingers interlaced.
  • Place top of the head firmly on the pad and in the cradle of interlaced hands so that palms support the back of the head.
  • Slowly lift knees and move legs up so that torso rises till it is vertical with the head. Leveraging with elbows, shoulder and lower back muscles, lift off the ground smoothly.
  • As torso rises, keep knees together. Get into an upside-down position.
  • Stabilise position and straighten legs. Keep neck rigid.
  • After sufficient practice one could begin doing this exercise away from a wall. In this case after lifting legs off the ground, fold them at the knees for balance before straightening.
  • The body should be held straight and rigid in final position.

    Shirasasana

    Yogacharya Sundaram demonstrating Sthithi (starting) position in 1920’s

  • Maintain normal breathing. 
  • Focus on the movement of breath at the throat.
  • Come down to sthithi (starting) position by reversing the cycle. Wait at sthithi (starting position) for blood supply to normalise before getting up.
  • Start with 10 secs. initially. Normal cycle is 3 to 20 minutes. One can also split the practice into 2 periods of 3 to 10 minutes each with a break of 2 minutes.
  • Descend in reverse order, slowly. Relax.
  • The drishti (gaze) recommended is oordhva drishti (open sky gaze).

School of Yoga explains – Shirasasana benefits :

  • This asana infuses blood pregnant with oxygen into the central nervous system. As a result, brain cells are invigorated, waste cleaned and removed. The oxygen supply stabilises brain’s metabolic activity. Therefore, this exercise is good for improvinf overall brain function and development.

    Shirasasana

    Yogacharya Sundaram demonstrating intermediate Shirasasana (1920’s)

  • The eyes, eye muscles, retinal nerves are flushed with oxygen impregnated blood. Hence, very good for health of the eye.
  • This asana energises the pituitary glands, hypothalamus and thalamus which controls the functioning of testes in men and all the endocrine organs such as the thyroid and adrenaline glands.
  • The downward force of blood also helps in infusing blood to the ears, eyes, mucous tissues and salivary glands.
  • The focus on breathing at the throat balances ear pressure.
  • Good for maintaining body fat balance since pituitary also regulates the balance between water and salt in body fluids through the kidneys.
  • Also, the downward pressure of the colon contents increases peristalsis and cures constipation.
  • The cartilage in the spine gets exercised and rejuvenated because of reverse pressure on the spine.

School of Yoga explains – Shirasasana contraindications 

  • If you have any form of back ache, do not attempt this asana without adequate supervision and support.
  • People with cardiac problems, lower back problems and circulatory disorders should not attempt this asana. 
  • Should not to be done by people having neck ailments like cervical or lumbar spondylosis or arthritis.
  • People with kidney ailments, hernia etc should avoid this asana.

    Yogacharya Sundaram demonstrating final Shirasasana @ age 80+, looking on is his Yoga teacher grand-daughter Sujata

  • This asana should not be practiced during menstruation or pregnancy.

School of Yoga explains – some noteworthy points of shirasasana:

Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, PranayamaHatha Yoga Pradeepika

External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi

Shirasasana

Yoga Teacher Jayalakshmi demonstrating final Shirasasana (1940’s)

  • Ensure that you are physically fit before performing this asana.
  • Do not relax the abdomen. It can cause the walls to collapse and tearing of the inguinal hernia.
  • Do not relax the neck, shoulder and back when performing the asana as this could lead to accidents.
  • Needless to say, this asana will also benefit the thyroid. Indeed, this asana is indispensable for bringing balance to the endocrine system.
  • When the asana is being performed, there will be an increased flow of oxygen impregnated blood to the brain. Consequently, there is increased pressure within the head. So, do not perform this asana for long duration initially. Allow the body to acclimatise itself to the increased blood flow and then increase the duration.
  • Since the blood supply to the head is increased dramatically, do not rise off the ground immediately after completing this asana. Quick movement could result in loss of stability and balance. Come to sthiti (starting) position and wait for the blood supply to normalise before standing up.
Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
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