In many ways, sirsasana is a liberating pose. There’s something about turning upside down that feels very freeing. Maybe it’s the confidence that comes from being able to go against the natural pull of gravity and establish stability in the face of it.
Going against the pull of gravity has other remarkable benefits, and headstand has long been called an anti-aging pose because of the rejuvenating effects it has on the endocrine system and for stimulating the release of human growth hormone, a hormone that declines substantially in all humans after the age of 20.
For many people this is a scary pose for a variety of reasons: the fear of falling, the fear of neck injury or pain and the simple misunderstanding of the steps leading into the full pose.
Therefore, we often find headstand is a pose that is avoided.
The simple truth is that learning how to do sirsasana properly can reduce those fears and concerns. And since the pose brings so many benefits, you’ll be glad you put in the effort.
Headstand has SO many benefits that it’s nicknamed, “the king of asana.”
A good number of the benefits are directly related to the pressure being exerted in the head, which stimulates the critical centers of the brain and affects the entire nervous system. Many practitioners aren’t fond of that pressure initially—the sensation takes some getting used to—you must work with it slowly.
Additionally, the cervical vertebra are susceptible to damage if the pose is done incorrectly over a long-term practice.
This is something that can be mitigated with proper preparation and awareness. Learning the pose from a seasoned teacher is definitely recommended.
Personally I have known several practitioners who have included this pose in their practice up into their 80s and found the benefits far outweigh any potential negative consequence.
Tania and I have always been passionate about the benefits of headstand, and are, in fact, in the final stages of preparing our free mini-course that will introduce our online headstand program to cover this asana in more detail.
UPDATE: This course is now closed but if you would like to sign up to be notified about its future release, click here.
Below are some details about this important asana…as usual, download the pdf of this tip sheet at the bottom of this post.
asana name = sirsasana
- sirsa = head
- asana = seat
benefits (this list is merely some of them!)
- Calms the nervous system
- Increases blood flow to the brain
- Draws focus internally and allows us to see the world (and ourselves) from a different perspective
- Reduces pressure on abdominal organs
- Strengthens muscles of shoulders, back and neck
- Stimulates the immune system
- Eye conditions
- High blood pressure
- Brain injury
- Neck/back injury
preparations or alternatives
- Sarvangasana or adho mukha svanasana
- Place a doubled mat or folded blanket under arms and head for comfort.
- Set up with wall behind you to prevent falling and to build confidence.
- Just for fun, close eyes once your balance is strong.
- Peaceful, restful contemplation
Sirsasana truly deserves respect in order for the cervical vertabra to be protected over the course of a yoga life. But the immense number of benefits associated with it are worth the effort to cultivate this pose with awareness and reverence.
If you’re teaching this pose in your classes, you owe it to yourself to learn all you can about the proper set-up, execution and ways of evaluating the readiness of your students before bringing it to the classroom.
Ignoring headstand would be doing a disservice to all that an asana practice has to offer.
What you can do next
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