Yoga Posture Guide - The Head-stand (Sirsha-asana)

Translation:  The Sanskrit word sirsha means head. This posture is the well-known headstand posture and perhaps second only to the padma-asana or lotus posture, is widely identified with the practice of Yoga.  
Pronunciation:  sir-shah-sa-na  
Difficulty:  (7) 

The Head-stand (Sirsha-asana) is complicated to describe but is actually one of the simpler sitting postures. It requires less flexibility of the legs than the padma-asana yet it facilitates relaxation, concentration and ultimately, meditation. 

Siddha-asana helps to establish an equilibrium throughout the body/mind. It will also help stretch the legs and pelvic area to the point where the padma-asana can be held effortlessly. Either posture, by creating a firm foundation with the legs locked in a crossed position and the spine held straight and motionless, awakens the attention and helps cultivate concentration. When concentration is highly focused and undistracted, meditation follows. 
The Head-stand (Sirsha-asana)

Health Benefits of the Head-stand (Sirsha-asana)

It stimulates four of the most important endocrine glands - the pituitary, the pineal, the thyroid, and the parathyroid glands. It has a very beneficial effect on the whole body.

It improves many ailments, such as nervousness, tension, fatigue, sleeplessness, dullness, fear, poor blood circulation, bad memory, asthma, headaches, constipation, congested throat, liver or spleen, for female disorders, the initial stages of eye and nose troubles, and general lack of energy, vitality or self confidence.

It promotes hair growth by increasing circulation to the scalp improved brain function (intelligence and memory) and increased vitality and confidence.

It keeps the spine into correct alignment.

It restores the position of vital organs by reversing gravity.

It improves sleep.

The Head-stand (Sirsha-asana) Instructions

  1. Sit in a kneeling position with the buttocks resting on the heels of the feet. 
  2. Lean forward and place the forearms on the floor in front while keeping the elbows about shoulder distance apart. Interlock the fingers of both hands. 
  3. Place the top of the head flat on the floor with the back of the head pressed against the inside of the interlocked fingers. 
  4. Placing the tips of the toes firmly on the floor while lifting the heels, raise the knees off the floor. 
  5. Hold for the duration of the held inhaled breath. When you can't hold the breath comfortable any longer, slowly exhale and return them back to the floor, slide the legs out straight returning to the shava-asana.  

Duration/Repetitions: Hold the sirsha-asana for 15-30 seconds when you first attempt it and increase the duration gradually over a period of a few weeks. As you skill increases you should hold it for as long as you feel comfortable. 

Cautions/Restrictions: If you are new to Yoga we recommend that you find a qualified instructor to teach you this posture and monitor your performance. If you attempt this alone position yourself in front of a wall as mentioned above. 

If you are suffering from high or low blood pressure you should not attempt this posture. 
The sirsha-asana should not be performed by a woman who is menstruating, as is the case with all inverted postures (where the legs are raised over the head). 

  • It is recommended that before attempting the Sirsha-asana beginners first mastered some of the more basic postures like Sarvanga-asana, Dhanura-asana, Ugra-asana, etc.
  • Beginners may start this in a corner so that they can practice it without the fear of falling down.
  • If you are suffering from high or low blood pressure you should not attempt this posture. First get your blood pressure normal by natural means like good nutrition, other asanas etc.
  • The sirsha-asana should not be performed by a woman who is menstruating, as is the case with all inverted postures (where the legs are raised over the head).
  • If you have any serious eye diseases, constipation, pus in your ears, chronic nasal catarrh, defective pituitary, pineal or thyroid gland, neck injury. Avoid this asana, it’s better to consult your physician.

Variations: There are several variations to the sirsha-asana that you can try when you are comfortable with the standard variation. First try spreading your legs wide apart, carefully separating them very slowly, while maintaining your balance, until they are as far apart as is comfortable. Bring your legs together before returning from the posture. Next, you can try placing the soles of your feet together while steadily holding the pose.  

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