How To Do The Salamba Sirsasana And What Are Its Benefits October 27, 2016

Sirsasana, Shirshasana Sirshasana, or Headstand is an asana. Sanskrit: शीर्षासन; Sa – With, Alamba – Support, Sirsa – Head, Asana – Pose; Pronounced As – sah-LOM-bah shear-SHAHS-anna

This pose entails a complete inversion of the body, with only the support of the forearms. This asana is said to be the king of all asanas. It needs to be done when your upper body is strong enough to hold the body weight. Hence, you need to practice a whole lot of other asanas to build the strength required to do the Sirsasana.

Everything You Need To Know About Salamba Sirsasana

  1. What You Should Know Before You Do This Asana
  2. How To Do Salamba Sirsasana
  3. Precautions And Contraindications
  4. Beginner’s Tips
  5. Advanced Pose Variations
  6. Sirsasana II – A Variation
  7. Benefits Of The Supported Headstand
  8. Preparatory Poses
  9. Follow-Up Poses

What You Should Know Before You Do This Asana

This asana must be done only on an empty stomach. You need to make sure to have your meals four to six hours before your practice and give your body enough time to digest your food. Ideally, there needs to be a 10-12 hour gap between your meals and your practice, which is why it is best advised to practice this asana early in the morning. However, owing to busy schedules, a lot of people find it hard to work out in the morning. Such people may practice yoga in the evening. Your bowels also must be clean while you practice this asana.

What You Should Know Before You Do This Asana

Image: Shutterstock

Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Style: Vinyasa
Duration: 1 to 5 minutes
Repetition: None
Stretches: Legs, Back
Strengthens: Legs, Arms, Vertebral column, Lungs

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How To Do Salamba Sirsasana

  1. Place a sturdy, soft blanket on the floor to cushion your head. Then, kneel down on the floor, and interlace your fingers after you place your forearms on the floor. Make sure your elbows are shoulder width apart. Gently nudge your upper arms outward, and firmly press your inner wrists on the floor.
  1. Place the crown of your head on the blanket. Set the base of both your palms together, and fit your crown against your clasped hands.
  1. Breathe in, and lift your knees. Then, walk towards your elbows with your heels lifted off the floor. Now, lift through your thighs such that your body forms an inverted ‘V’. Push your shoulder blades against your back. Then, lift them towards your tailbone so that the front part of your torso is lengthened. This will keep the weight of the shoulders from affecting your head and neck.
  1. As you breathe out, lift your feet off the floor. It is important to lift both the feet together, even if your knees bend slightly as you lift up. Place the legs perpendicular to the floor, and firm up your tailbone against the back portion of your pelvis. Push your heels up towards the ceiling. Your body should be aligned in a straight line.
  1. Keep your weight balanced on both your forearms. Hold the pose for about 10 seconds as a beginner. Keep increasing the time until you can stay in it for up to five minutes or as long as you are comfortable.

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Precautions And Contraindications

These are some points of caution you must keep in mind before you practice this asana.

  1. Avoid this asana at all costs if you suffer from the following issues:
  • Back injury
  • Headaches
  • A heart condition
  • High blood pressure
  • If you are menstruating
  • A neck injury
  1. If you have low blood pressure, don’t begin your practice with this asana.
  1. Only if you are an expert or have been practicing this pose for long, you can continue practicing this pose through your pregnancy. But don’t begin to practice this pose after you become pregnant.
  1. This is an advanced pose and must be practiced only under the supervision of a certified yoga instructor. It is also best to consult your doctor before you do this asana.

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Beginner’s Tips

As a beginner, there is always the tendency to weigh your head and neck down. This is harmful. So, it is best to use the support of a wall when you begin. As you start off, place your hands in position, and lift your head slightly off the floor. Then, gently lower it, while you put about 90 percent of your body weight on your arms and shoulders. As you practice, keep transferring more weight to your head. The process must be gradual. As you exit the pose, lift your head slightly off the floor before you put your legs down.

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Advanced Pose Variations

You could also try the Eka Pada Sirsasana once you have mastered this asana. Once you assume the pose, exhale and lower one leg such that it is parallel to the floor, while the other one is still perpendicular to the floor. The hips of the bent leg usually tend to sink. To correct this, turn that leg slightly outward such that your buttocks come closer and rotate only from the hip joint. Hold the position for a few seconds. Inhale, and bring the lowered leg back to position. Repeat by lowering the other leg.

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Sirsasana II

Sirsasana-II

Image: Shutterstock

As a variation, you could also try the Sirsasana II or the Tripod Headstand. This asana is used as an intermediate pose as you come in and out of arm balances.

How To Do It
  1. To begin this asana, assume a tabletop position.
  1. Create a tripod with your body. Place your hand’s shoulder width apart and in line with your feet. Draw your head to the mat, about half a foot in front of the hands.
  1. You must now ensure that your torso is straight.
  1. Squeeze your triceps towards one another. Draw your shoulders down, such that they are embedded in your back. Engage your belly as you keep squeezing your arms.
  1. Draw your knees in. Rest on your arms, creating a ball with your body. Then, slowly lift your feet to the sky.
  1. Raise your legs such that they are perpendicular to the floor. Ensure that your tailbone is firmly set into the pelvis.
  1. Engage your whole body as your straighten your knees. Press through the corners of your feet.
  1. Hold the pose only for about 5 to 10 breaths. Then, jump and release.

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Benefits Of The Supported Headstand

These are some amazing benefits of the Salamba Sirsasana.

  1. It totally calms the mind and relieves stress in an instant owing to the intense stretching. It can also cure mild depression.
  1. It is known to stimulate both the pineal and pituitary glands.
  1. The lungs, spine, arms, and legs are strengthened with this asana.
  1. The abdominal organs are toned, and digestion is improved.
  1. This asana also works on the reproductive system and helps cure infertility with regular practice. It also relieves menstrual and menopause symptoms.
  1. It helps cure sinusitis, asthma, and infertility.

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Preparatory Poses

Sarvangasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Uttanasana
Virasana

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Follow-Up Poses

Adho Mukha Svanasana
Bālāsana

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This asana is not deceptive. It appears challenging, and it is indeed challenging. But like many of the advanced yoga poses, this is one challenge you must definitely take up to experience and become aware of your body like never before.

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