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Sirsasana refers to headstand exercise. The Salamba Sirsana means supported headstands. In this exercise, you will be standing in reverse position from your head down to legs up.
It is a popular yoga asana performed by only experts. It is strictly not recommended for beginners, people with blood pressure, and diabetes and other health conditions. Headstand is believed to be a king of all asana. It requires strong upper body and forearms to perform this Sirsasana. It requires more practice under experienced guidance to build strength for performing Sirsasana.
Things to know before doing Sirsana
Perform this asana only with an empty stomach and avoid any food intake. If you have a plan of performing this asana after a meal, then make sure there should be 6 hours gap.
Ideally, you should keep a gap of 10-12 hours between your practice and asana. It is the reason to perform it in the early morning. Most of the people with busy schedule face difficulty to perform the workout in the morning.
Salamba Sirsasana – How To Do?
- Place a soft and firm blanket on the ground to provide cushioning to your head. Then, bend down over the ground, and combine your fingers after placing your forearms on the ground. Ensure to have your elbows at distant of your shoulder.
- Slowly push your upper arms out and tightly press inner wrist over the floor.
- Place the top part of your arm on the blanket. Keep both palm base together and fit your crown opposite to your grasped hands.
- Inhale and elevate your knees. Then, walk toward your heels using elbows.
- Lift from your thighs in a way to form your body in V shape.
- Drive your shoulder blades opposite to your back. Raise them to your tailbone to lengthen your front torso. It will keep your shoulder weight from pressuring neck and head.
- As you exhale, raise your feet from the floor. It is essential to raise both the feet together, even if your knees flex somewhat as you raise upward.
- Put your legs at 90-degree angle and hold your tailbone firm against your back and pelvis portion.
- Drive your heels upward to the ceiling and keep your body aligned sprightly.
- Maintain your weight over your forearms. Hold this posture for 10-seconds as a beginner.
- Try to increase your time until you can hold for 5-minutes as you feel comfortable.
Tips for Beginner
Beginners always face difficulty to balance the body weight over neck and head. It can be harmful and result in injury. Therefore, you need to take help of wall to get support.
- As you begin, put your hand in the position, and elevate your head somewhat off the ground.
- Now, slowly lower it while keeping 90% of your body weight over your shoulders and arms.
- As you start practicing, keep pushing more weight toward your head.
- The practice process should be slow.
- As you complete the pose, raise your head somewhat off the ground before keeping your legs down.
Advanced Variations of Salamba Sirsasana
You can also try Eka Pada Sirsasana once you become an expert with this asana. Once you understand the pose, breath out and reduce your one leg in a parallel way to the floor while the other leg should be at 90 degrees to the floor.
The hip of the flexed leg points to drop.
Move that leg somewhat outward to correct it. Your butts should come closer and turn from hip joints.
Be in this position for some time and breath-in. Then lower down your leg.
Keep repeating for another leg.
It is a variation to try Sirsasana. It is also called as Tripod Headstand. This asana is performed as a standard pose you perform in and out of the arm balance.
How to do?
- Assume a tabletop
- Form a tripod using your body. Put your hands at your shoulder-width apart and level with your feet. Move your head to the mat nearly a half foot in front of your hands.
- You can now notice that your body is straight.
- Press your triceps to one another. Move your shoulders down in a way to set it in your back.
- Keep squeezing your arms by engaging your belly.
- Move your knees inside and rest over your arms by making a ball with your body. Then, gently raise your feet to the above.
- Lift your legs in a way at 90 degrees to the ground.
- Make sure your tailbone is strongly placed into your pelvis.
- Contract your whole body as you make your knees straight, squeeze from the corner of your feet.
- Keep this pose for 5-10 breaths and then bounce to release.
Salamba Sirsasana Benefits
The Salamba Sirsana helps to provide benefits of relieving stress. It is popularly known for cooling posture. This pose is extremely helpful for reducing stress, anxiety, worrisome, and fearful thoughts. You can combine slow breathing and headstand to prevent stress.
When you move upside down, your blood flow will increase to the brain. It helps to promote your mental functions and boost your sense of focus. It also reduces your worry and fear feeling. The headstand pose helps make your mind clear and brain.
Promote Blood Flow to Your Eyes
Doing headstand helps provide good blood flow to your eyes. It will send more oxygen and full of nutritious blood to your head and also increase blood to eyes, which makes eye health better and prevent macular degeneration and other eye problems.
Enhances Blood Flow to Scalp
Headstand is the best exercise and yoga pose to increase your nutrient flow to the scalp. Your body may not transfer more nutrients due to stress or poor diet. Have a proper and healthy diet and then practice headstand. It will increase blood flow to hair follicles and enhance your hair health.
Having hair fall is an annoying problem that everyone faces at a certain age. It happens because of malnutrition and stress of modern lifestyle.
Have a slow practice of headstand and perform it to get the most benefit to your hair and scalp.
Strengthens Arms and Shoulders
While performing headstand, keep pushing down toward ground using your forearms. While doing this, you will use arms, back and shoulder strength to keep the pressure over your neck and head. It is an amazing posture for enhancing your upper body strength and muscular stamina.
Performing Salamba Sirsasana helps to improve your digestion. Doing headstand reverse your digestive organs, and it will help to move the stuck substances and release the cornered gases. It also improves your blood flow to entire digestive systems.
Headstand pose also helps to absorb nutrients and increase nutrient flow to the cells and tissues.
You can combine headstand pose with belly breathing to increase whammy effects.
Make sure that you have a healthy digestive system. Avoid doing a headstand if you are suffering from acid reflux, stomach ulcer. Don’t forget to take your doctor advice to prevent complications.
Cleanse the Adrenal Glands
Doing Salamba Sirsasana helps to squeeze little adrenal glands, which work to produce stress hormones. Flushing out adrenal glands help to function better. Headstand helps to manage stress in a better way.
Reduce fluid build-up
Doing headstand helps lower the fluid build-up in the ankles, legs, and feet.
Standing for long hours causes to build puffiness in the feet due to fluid accumulation. Reversing the gravity effects over your bodily fluids flush out the build-up water in your legs. It relieves the uncomfortable feeling of swellings.
Strengthen Core Muscles
Sirsasana is a major workout for core muscles. You will depend on the core strength for holding your legs upward and maintain balance in an entire pose. Strong core muscles help you to perform the exercise durably. It will also prevent the risk of injury in yoga and other everyday exercises.
Stimulates Lymphatic System
Doing Sirsasana helps to stimulate the lymphatic system. The node’s network and fluids help to eliminate the waste substances from your blood. When you reverse your body, you will directly incite your lymphatic system and helps to reduce toxins from the body.
Heal Migraine and Headache
Sirsasana works effectively for relaxing and strengthening blood vessels in your brain and prevent migraine and headaches. Practicing headstand helps to promote nutrient to nerves of the brain and soothe headaches.
Manage Diabetes Naturally
Diabetes is a harmful health condition, which requires careful management. It happens when pituitary glands functions become impair and malfunction in the pancreas and result in the development of the diabetogenic hormone.
Yoga is an amazing and affordable solution for diabetes management. Yoga control many parts of diabetes. There is some yoga asana such as pranayama, Sirsasana, and meditation, which directly work over pituitary glands. There are some more yoga asanas which help to promote blood flow such as Bhujangasana, Ardha Matsyendrasana, and Mayurasana. These asana work in a better way to boost pancreas health.
Sirsasana is the best yoga asana to manage both type1 and type2 diabetes. The headstand yoga pose enhances blood flow to the head regions and activates the pituitary gland, a main endocrine gland to manage hormonal change in the whole body. Having more secretion of diabetogenic hormone result in type2 diabetes. It also activates the islet beta cells in the pancreas to emit the right quantity of insulin to balance the correct level of glucose in your body.
Performing headstand work effectively to boost healthy brain functions and balance pituitary glands and manage diabetes.
Make sure to ask your doctor to prevent complications. Some people have complicated diabetes conditions which change frequently. It requires to monitor under expert.
Improve your Sensations
Performing headstand helps to improve blood supply and promote sensory organs functions. It manages problems such as myopia, bad hearing, and astigmatism.
Cure for Varicose Vein and Piles
The pile’s disease and enlarged veins happen due to the build-up of blood inside the legs and anus. The Sirsasana yoga pose breaks down the blood accumulation in the anus and veins and carries it to the various parts of your body while relieving the problem of varicose veins and piles. Take your doctor advice for preventing complications.
Headstand helps to increase memory power and improve mental functions. Doing regular performance of Sirsasna helps to increase blood flow from the brain cells, which strengthen thinking ability by making thought process easier.
The headstand asana is like a tonic for those people who get tired quickly. It provides good blood supply to the pineal and pituitary glands in the brain. The health, growth, and life depend on the correct functioning of both glands.
Relives cold & cough
The lungs get the ability to resist any climate and work for anything. However, Sirsasana helps to relieve coughs, cold, and tonsillitis in healthy people without any major disorder.
Regular performances of Sirsasana shown better improvements in the hemoglobin of blood. However, headstand exercise helps in RBC formation.
Another benefit of headstand is the improvement in skin complexion. You can improve the facial skin from the regular practice of Sirsasana.
Wrinkles and pimples are often occurred by inadequate elimination of waste materials and nourishment from the blood. Headstand provides oxygen-rich blood flow to the facial skin and improves your complexion.
Performing supported Sirsasana helps to treat thyroid gland by managing the metabolic functions. Thyroid malfunctions cause many ailments directly or indirectly on the body. The supported headstand exercise helps to bring proper health to important organs.
Manage sexual disorders
Sirsasana helps to treat different sexual disorders such as leucorrhea, prostrate problems, hydrocele, spermatorrhea, menstrual ailments, and menopausal problems. The headstand pose flows the blood from linked with sexual endocrine organs and glands. It improves the efficiency of sexual functions.
How long should you hold Salamba Sirsasana?
There are various views on the highest duration for holding Sirsasana. Some experts recommend maximum 2-minutes, some suggest 3-5. You can even perform hatha yoga Pradipika for 3-hours. But most of the traditional yoga suggest one common thing: You can hold a headstand for a long time as comfortable you feel. If your back, arms, and neck begin to get tired, come out of the pose and relax. As you practice, you will be able to hold this pose for a longer time.
Mistakes to avoid while doing Shirshasana
Many people avoid practicing headstand properly. They met with pain or injury due to some small mistakes. If you are aware of mistakes, then you can avoid the pain and strain. The common mistake of headstand results in discomfort, instability. Here are the possible injuries.
- Getting hips back of the shoulders
- Elbows kept too wide
- Wrong placement of the head
- Not sufficient opposition in feet and arms
- Practicing on a hard surface
- Breathing too fast or too shallow
- Losing the normal spine curve
Salamba Sirsasana – Common myths
There are some myths about headstand exercise, which are misleading. Here are some of them.
Should you not perform headstand while menstruation?
You should avoid headstand during your menstruation is a common myth among women.
The blood may not flow anywhere because of the valves in the veins. The only reason behind avoiding headstand is women experience nausea and cramps while menstruating.
Should you not perform headstand while pregnancy?
It is believed that doing headstand may injure the baby.
The proper pose with guidance and help may not injure the baby but falling from headstand can cause a problem. Therefore, people with a risky pregnancy and no practice avoid headstand.
Does headstand injure your brain?
Generally, headstand is safe only, people with cardiovascular issues, inflammation, and high blood pressure should avoid it.
Headstand is unsafe for your neck
It is another common myth. Bodyweight creates a potential risk for the neck.
Performing headstand with right alignment and proper posture can help to prevent neck injury risk.
What are Correct Alignments for Headstand?
Having correct alignment is very important while doing a headstand. Follow the instructions to perform supported headstand.
It is recommended to take child pose for 10-15 seconds to offset the bold pressure in your legs and head before doing a headstand.
Now form a Shashankasana by placing hands over your head with aligned elbows with shoulders.
This shoulder position provides excellent stability to your shoulders. Doing so helps to engage your shoulders.
- When you keep your head on the floor, make sure to keep the part starting from your hairline going to the crown also called Bregma. Avoid keeping the crown over the floor as it is a very gentle part, which is more likely to get an injury.
The body weight should be parted in 80/20 ratio by the arm and head. The back and core muscles keep equally engaged. It is an ideal alignment for the people who wish to hold the long pose.
- The body weight is placed more on your arms, and less on your neck (20/80). This alignment is good for those who want to build core strength and put less pressure on the neck. This alignment should also be done by a beginner. Once you manage to hold this pose for one minute, you can shift to alignment A.
- In this pose, the bodyweight is on your hands and neck. Your pelvis will hang, so the back muscles have to perform very hard to place your posture and core is not adequately engaged. This alignment is sufficient as it gets compression in the back and neck, which result in injury.
- The body weight is fall back the head so not possible to hold in this pose for anyone.
Do or Don’t – Practicing next to the wall
It is good to avoid the headstand against the wall because it will not use the right muscles of your body to support your weight. Rather it will make you put weight on the wall and keep longer in the position than your body can handle. It may also cause you injuries to eyes, brain, and neck.
If you don’t have expert trainer than learn headstand under sand spongy grace surface.
The Risk of Headstand
Although headstand is a beneficial exercise, it can also cause risk.
The seventh vertebrae of the neck are the smallest part of the body, which is responsible for holding only head weight and not the whole body. You have to be careful while distributing your body weight.
Doing improperly Salamba Sirsasana causes disc herniation in your neck. It happens when the softer jelly covers the spinal column and push it out by a crack in the difficult exterior. It will cause numbness, pain, tingling in arms, and neck. Keep doing slow practice and perform the headstand in the right way.
Eye and Spine Risks
You will require a strong upper body, and lots of yoga practice to do a Salamba Sirsasana pose safely. Your arms, shoulder, upper back, and chest muscles should support your weight. If your these part muscles are not strong to hold your body, then it could create a risk of damaging the cervical spine.
If you have an existing neck injury, then avoid doing a headstand.
Glaucoma is another primary risk of doing headstand exercise. In the condition of glaucoma, the pressure accumulates upward and around the eyes and impair your vision.
Doing headstand increases the pressure in the eyes. If the blood vessels in the eyes have burst, then it will float. The same condition occurs with people who had recent surgery of eyes.
Blood Pressure Risks
Whether you are an advanced practitioner or yoga beginner, you should avoid doing a headstand if you have high blood pressure. Headstand may increase your blood pressure from 100/60 mm Hg-150/110 mm Hg in your head, which increases the stroke risk. Make sure to have your blood pressure check and perform headstand only if you have normal BP.
Pregnancy and Menstruation Risks
According to Yoga Journal, some yoga trainer recommends not to do headstand during menstruating. It causes vascular congestion the uterus and leads to heavier flow for some women.
Similarly, pregnant women may face vascular congestion and blood pressure problems. However, the women, who perform headstand previously can continue, but a woman should not perform for the first time after getting pregnant.