Learning Shirshasana (Head Stand)

What is Shirshasana?

According to Pattabhi Jois “the entire body must stand upside down on the strength of the arms alone”

The head stand has 13 vinyasas and is an advanced yoga posture.  In Ashtanga yoga it forms part of the finishing sequence.  In the second series of Ashtanga yoga there are 7 variations.

Some common challenges of the posture;

It can feel odd to be inverted (upside down) when we are used to standing grounded on our feet!  The mind and body can therefore get disorientated, until the muscles learn new memory.  

The mind can have a field day with negative fear based talk.  Yet with self management, body awareness and strong technique we can calm down the amygdala and overcome the mind.

Some practical tips for improving Shirshasana technique;

  • Sit on your knees
  • Place your elbows on the floor in front and lock your fingers together in a cup
  • Place the crown of your head on the floor, interlocked fingers cupping the back of your head
  • Engage your scapula and press the tops of your shoulders down away from your ears as you engage your rear deltoids (shoulder blades)
  • Straighten your legs and walk them in towards the body so your hips come over your shoulders
  • Put all your strength in your forearms and shoulders (not head)
  • Lift the legs using the power of your arms and shoulders
  • Tighten the body and point the toes
  • Pull your stomach in
  • Breathe deeply through your throat
  • Keep weight evenly balanced on the two forearms
  • When you have finished bring the feet slowly to the floor
  • Rest in Bālāsana (childs pose)

The benefits of Shirshasana;

  • The nadir of the head is purified by inflowing blood
  • Improved memory
  • Improved eye sight
  • Purification of the 5 senses
  • Building strength in the arms, shoulders and core muscles

“Shirshasana will nourish the body, sense organs, mind and intellect, and thereby promote evolution.”  Pattabhi Jois


Claire T

(Sept 17 200 hr YTT)

Photo by Aral Tasher on Unsplash

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