Copyright © 2015 - 2019 by Padma Yvonne Jaques 

Padmanjali Yoga & Diamond Forest Retreat Centre

1540 Hess Road, Gabriola Island

 

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sirsasana - headstand

 

Category

Inversion asana.

 

Physical Benefits

Refreshes and revitalizes the entire body, improves circulation to brain, massages abdominal organs, nourishes all cells of body with fresh blood.

 

Mental Benefits

Deeply composes the mind, reverses stale thought patterns, reduces anxiety, builds confidence.  Amazing cure for negative mind states - विपरीत-चित्त viparita-chitta in Sanskrit - contrary-mindedness, having impaired mental functions or having a perverted mind!  :)  This form of mental perversion relates to the delusion that we can get what we want or avoid what we don’t want by hurting others.  

 

Subtle Body Benefits

Stimulates all the chakras, refines the consciousness, reverses downward winds and allows pranic flow in sushumna, assists in raising kundalini. 

 

Karmic Benefits 

Overcome any obstacles you might have to perfecting sirsasana – fear of inversion, weak abdominals or back muscles, inability to balance on the tip of your head - by consciously assisting someone who appears to have similar obstacles. 

 

Perform:

  1. Make sure the surface where you are practicing is absolutely level and smooth.  You could double up your yoga mat if the tip of your head feels sensitive, or place your mat on a smooth, carpeted or blanketed surface.  In my experience, though, too much padding can also destabilize you, and so, I recommend as hard and smooth a surface as you can tolerate.

  2. Begin by clasping your hands and weight bearing strongly into your outer wrists and outer forearms and elbows.  Elbow are in line with your shoulders.  I like to tuck my inner pinkie finger inside the outer one so that I’m actually weight bearing all along both pinkie fingers evenly.

  3. In this position, do several sets of Dolphin Dives, beginning in a Downward Dog position and diving forward so that your face dives quite far forward of your hands.  Go back and forth like this so that you get a real sense of weight bearing into the elbows and outer wrists.  Initially, this is very important.  Eventually, you will gradually learn to take more weight onto the crown of your head.

  4. Now rest on the crown of your head with plenty of weight in your outer wrists and forearms and elbows.  Lengthen the sides of your neck from your ears to your shoulders and press hard into your arms.

  5. Start to walk your feet in towards your head, bending your knees as you need to, and allowing your hips to shift so that they are directly over your shoulders.  Deepen into your hip creases as much as you can.

  6. When your feet are as close as you can get them to your face, which should be very close, and your upper thighs are approaching your chest, (you may need to simultaneously work on opening your hamstrings and deepening your forward folds) keep walking your feet even further in until they eventually have to float up into the air, just an inch or two off the ground because your hips have come into position directly over your shoulders.  DON’T UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE KICK UP INTO HEADSTAND.  CONTINUE TO WORK ON BOTH FEET FLOATING UP AT ONCE.

  7. Knees may be quite bent and feet are now off the ground.  Stay in this position with the toes just floating off the floor for a while, getting used to having your weight on the crown of your head.

  8. Gradually start to draw your heels in towards your buttocks and upper thighs in towards your chest.

  9. From this point on, it is a matter of time - maybe days, weeks, months or if you’re like me, years.  Gradually, you can extend the hips, but keep the knees bent with feet close to buttocks , until you are able to  get your knees above your hips and shoulders with knees still bent and feet hanging behind you.  This requires strong mulabandha and ashvini mudra actions and a strong commitment to force extending in both directions - into the crown of the head, and as much force out through the feet and overhead.

  10. At this point, it is crucial to obtain the advice of a qualified yoga teacher who can assist and guide you further in your inversion practice.

 

Tips From Deep Retreat:

  1. Headstand is an extraordinarily difficult pose.  Even after many decades of practice, it affords constant and new opportunities for realizations and subtle refinements.  

  2. One of the most important attitudes to bring to your practice of headstand is to totally surrender to the experience of the moment.  This will shift from day to day, even from moment to moment.  For example, if you practice headstand two or three times during a single asana session, your experience may be radically different each time.  Become totally comfortable with the fact that one day, you’ll feel totally comfortable and balanced on the crown of your head, and ten minutes later, you’re shaky, unstable and wobbly.  This is a reflection of karmic ripening of the moment, and has nothing to do with how much or how little you practice!  When we have assisted others to feel comfortable and grounded, that will be our experience.  When we stress people out and make them feel unbalanced and shaky, that will be our experience.  And so it goes.

  3. Set up the technicalities of the pose meticulously, as outlined above.

  4. Even partial headstands or headstand prep. positions give the benefits of turning yourself and your world upside down - they shake you up and reconfigure you, mentally, physically and energetically!

  5. Headstand is remarkable for quickly abating states of anger, calming anxiety or panic, and reducing stress almost immediately.  The normal pranic currents are reversed so radically that states of mind must follow!  This is because mind states and thoughts are always in tandem with prana and breath, riding one atop the other like a horse and its rider, and where one goes, the other must follow.  

 

Counterpose

Balasana - Child’s Pose or Tadasana – Mountain Pose.

 

Cautions

High blood pressure, vertigo, any conditions which cause impure blood.

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