SIRSASANA

Head Standing Posture

(Sirsa = Head , Asana = Posture)

 

Step by step instructions:

 

1.   Inhale from Adho Mukha Svanasana, and exhale into a table top position. Place your elbows on the floor and cup your elbows to ensure the correct distance between your elbows. This is so your elbows are placed shoulder width apart. Interlock your fingers while maintaining the distance in your elbows (shoulder width apart). Palms open. Now your arms should form a triangular or tripod base.

 

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2.   Place the crown of your head on your mat, in between your palms, with the back of your head pushing against your palms. Make sure that you have a solid base in your forearms, elbows and head before moving forward.

 

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3.   Inhale, straighten your legs and push up onto your toes. Slowly, walk your feet forward toward your face, until you feel lightness in your feet, and your body (hips and torso) fully supported by your tripod base (if your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees and walk forward). Engage your deltoids and latissimus dorsi, and pull your navel towards your spine.

 

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4.   Engage your core, inhale and slowly lift your right foot off the ground, and extend that leg towards the ceiling. Once you feel the balance, lift your left leg up slowly, so your left foot meets the other (if this step is too difficult or frightening, you may leave your feet on the floor like in Step 3. Strive on building up more strength, by keeping muscle engagements in your shoulders, upper back and core. Try rocking back and forth on your toes, to get used to the feeling of having your body upside down, balanced on your tripod base. DO NOT attempt to kick or jump your feet up while in this position as you may strain or injure your neck. OR, you can try hugging one knee to your chest until your other foot naturally lifts, and hug both knees into your chest. And balance here.)

 

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5.   If you are able to achieve balance in the full headstand, either with alternate straight legs or bent knees, keep your core engagement and breathe calmly. Keep pressing on your tripod base, and your whole body in straight alignment (think of standing in Tadasana – glutes and quads engaged, hips in internal rotation, vertebrae are stacked evenly on top of each other, core engaged, shoulders away from your ears).

6.   Hold this pose for 25 breaths, or as long as comfortable (or shorter if you don’t have the strength and slowly work up to holding longer). Hold your gaze (drishti) at the tip of your nose.

 

7.   To get out of this pose: Keep your core engaged, exhale and lower your left leg slowly until your left toes are on the floor, followed by your right leg (or flex your hips and knees and bring your knees to your chest, and slowly lower your feet to the floor).

 

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8.   And go into Balasana, pressing your sit bones onto your heels, forehead pressed on the floor, arms stretched out or keep them next to your body. Rest for 5 breaths or more.

 

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*Use a wall in the beginning for support and slowly build up your confidence. Work your way towards headstanding away from the wall. “Practice and all is coming.” – K. Pattabhi Jois

 Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKvz9aozR8s

 

Muscles activated:

  • Shoulders and arms – triceps (engaged to stabilize the forearms on the floor), deltoids, lower trapezius
  • Trunk – erector spinae, rectus abdominis, quadratus lomborum and psoas (support the lower back)
  • Pelvis and legs – Gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, adductor muscles, tibialis anterior

 

Benefits:

  • Physical – Builds strength throughout the whole body, calms the nervous system, increases blood flow to the brain, improves digestion, relieves swelling in the legs
  • Mental – Builds mental strength through the efforts of balancing, increases self confidence

 

Precaution:

  • Neck, elbows, shoulders or wrists pain – avoid this asana
  • Do not kick or jump up into this pose, as it may cause injury especially to the neck
  • Weight should be placed on your tripod foundation, not solely on the crown of your head

 

Contraindication:

  • High blood pressure
  • Menstruation
  • Recent neck or back injury

 

Counter poses:

  • Balasana
  • Uttanasana

 

 

Amelia Z. (200 hr Yoga TTC 07/14 Weekend)

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