We’re featuring a more advanced headstand, mukta hasta sirsasana, this week for our Ashtanga practitioners. In Ashtanga second series, there’s a string of headstands done in a row—some with hands free or “liberated” and some with bound or “baddha” hand/arm positions. This one is called mukta hasta sirsasana B.
The exit from this headstand in the Ashtanga sequence is a controlled drop directly into chatauranga dandasana, and then through a counterbalancing vinyasa before beginning the next headstand (important: You only take five breaths in each of these more intense headstands).
Needless to say, this takes patience to learn and immense strengthening of your core and fine motor skills. This sequence is not suggested until the proper preparation of completing and mastering the entire primary series is done. And, of course, it should be done under the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher.
As you can imagine, this version of headstand puts quite a lot of pressure on the crown and the neck. In fact, just by featuring this pose, we’re sure to catch some heat from those practitioners who are opposed to placing weight on the top of the head.
That’s a little intentional on our part.
Tania and I both feel that, when done with proper preparation and guidance, many poses that seem potentially harmful can be mastered and their benefits gained.
And headstand has SO many benefits that we feel it’s worth the effort.
The key here is “proper preparation and guidance.”
Below are some details about this advanced asana…as usual, download the pdf of this tip sheet at the bottom of this post.
asana name = mukta hasta sirsasana
- mukta = free; liberated
- hasta = hands
- 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 bound sirsasana
- Practice stabilizing on crown by leaving toes on floor before lifting legs. Stay at this stage for weeks or months.
- If preparation has been proper, this pose will feel surprisingly easy on first attempt.
- A spotter is a great moral support at first.
- Courage, faith and commitment
As we have mentioned before, 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.
What you can do next
- Leave a comment below…are you a fan of this pose?
- Grab your free asana tip sheet by clicking the button below.