SALAMBA SIRSHASANA (supported headstand)

salamba sirshasana picture


SALAMBA SIRSHASANA – SUPPORTED HEADSTAND
sa=with
alamba=that on which one rests
sirsa=head

“In a perfect Sirsasana your body feels completely stretched and at the same time you experience a feeling of complete relaxation” (BKS Iyengar, “The Illustrated Light on Yoga”)

Sirshasana is considered the king of all asanas and reversing the effect of gravity on the body, it brings a full balance and self reliance to the practitioner.

HOW TO GET INTO THE POSE

Sit in Vajrasana (thunderbolt pose), knees together, heels together, toes apart, buttocks on the inside part of the feet.

Close your eyes, relax the body, find your center.

Place your forearms down, hands on bottom elbows, measure the distance of your elbows with the length of your forearms, be sure that the elbows are maximum shoulder width apart.
Tightly interlock your fingers and form a cup with your hands, ready to welcome and balance the head.
Protract and lower you shoulders, getting them ready to sustain the weight.
Place the crown of your head inside the interlocked fingers for support, so that the head will not roll backwards once the body weight is pressing.
Lift the knees and buttock from the floor and slowly walk your feet towards your hands, legs straight, gradually straightening the spine as you walk closer. The back will move to a vertical position, the weight will shift to your head, arms and shoulders.

Bend the knees, press the thighs towards the abdomen and lower chest, transfer the weight to head and arms.
Raise one foot from the floor and the other one, fold your legs bending the knees as you adjust the trunk and find the correct balance. Keep the legs with heels towards your buttocks, lower back strong as you find your complete balance.
Raise the knees to a vertical position, shins still bent. Straighten hips, move thighs away from torso. Point knees to the ceiling and balance.
STRAIGHTEN THE KNEES AND RAISE THE LOWER LEGS, BRINGING THE BODY INTO A STRAIGHT LINE, FEET RELAXED.

Once the position is mastered the movement to go up and come down should be executed with legs together and straight.

Now breathe normally.

In a final perfected pose the weight should rest on the crown of the head and the arms should be used for balancing purposes only. In a perfected pose you should feel a small circle of the head in contact with the floor.

ALIGNMENT
The weight should be placed towards the crown of the head, to ensure a neutral spine and a balanced position between front and back body.

Scapulas are upwardly rotated.
Rectus femoris, hamstrings and vastus lateralis are engaged.
Hips are in a neutral extension and adduction, adductor magnus, harmstrings and gluteus maximus in a concentric contraction.
Psoas major in an eccentric contraction prevents the legs from falling backwards.
Spinal extensors and flexors maintain a neutral alignment of the spine.
Neck muscles (rectus capitis anterior and posterior, major and minor, obliquus capitis superior and inferior and longus capitis and colli) are contracted to balance and stabilize
Knees are extended, legs fully stretched, especially thighs and back of the knees, toes pointing up

ONE STRAIGHT LINE ONE STRAIGHT LINE
back of the head throat
trunk chin
back of the thighs breastbone
heels

Elbows and shoulders in a line, elbows not opened, shoulders high above the floor

BREATHING
Inhalation while waiting in a positions, exhalation while performing a movement;
As you raise the body into the final position, retain the breath inside until you are balanced

SUGGESTIONS
If and when falling and losing balance, the body should relax as much as possible not to hurt neck and back. Forward fall should be approached as a tumble, backwards fall should be faced legs folded to have the feet handle the fall.

RELEASE
Gently bend the knees, lower the body and touch the ground with the feet. Stay a few seconds head down and slowly raise up into a kneeling position

DURATION
Usually beginners will hold from 10 to 30 seconds, for general health 3-5 minutes are recommended, experienced yogis will hold it up to 30 minutes

AWARENESS
When still unexperienced, awareness will go on the balancing of the body. For experienced practitioners it will be the center of the head, the brain or respiration.

Salamba Sirshasana should, nevertheless, always be coupled with Sarvangasana, to harmonize the effects on the body and mind.

CONTRAINDICATIONS
Not to be practiced during pregnancy or menstruation

Not for:
headache, migraine, neck problems;
high blood pressure, heart disease, thrombosis, arteriosclerosis;
chronic catarrh, chronic constipation, kidney problems;
conjunctivitis, chronic glaucoma;
inflammation of the ears or haemorrhage in the head

BENEFITS
helps tissue regeneration by reversing the weight on the legs and deepening the exhalations, thus the emission of toxins, by pushing the diaphragm upwards;
improves lymph drainage;
best asana to awaken SAHASRARA chakra;
allows blood supply to pituitary and pineal glands;
rectifies nervous and glandular disorders (reproductive system);
brings new energy to body and mind, increasing thinking power and clearing thoughts;
relieves from anxiety and psychological disorders (which often cause asthma, diabetes, menopausal imbalances);
helps curing loss of sleep, memory and vitality;
lungs are empowered, thus allowing relief from colds, coughs, tonsillitis, halitosis and palpitations.

 

Alex (Yoga TTC200hr, January 2016)