Sirsasana

How to get into headstand

Headstand can be learned in one session.

Here are the steps:

  1. Proper preparation is everything. Take care that your elbows are not too far away from each other. My arms are almost parallel. This is very important.

  2. Walk with your feet to your body. It’s not necessary to have straight legs. Finally the back should be parallel to the wall.. (Picture #1)

  3. Bend one leg and bring it close to the body. Only one foot is the floor. The weight should be on the arms and not on that foot. (Picture #2)

  4. Jump a tiny bit to bring both leg in the same position. The closer you walked the feet to the body the less you have to jump. It’s a tiny dynamic movement. (picture #3)

  5. There are three possibilities to balance: The thumbs behind the head can press against the head. Breathe evenly. Engage the bandhas. Especially the last point gives a lot of stability. When no feet is on the floor the pose is mastered. Now only the legs must move upwards. This can be done very slowly. But that’s it.

People with high blood pressure should avoid this asana.

Sirsasana is an inversion and a balancing asana. Mastering this pose gives a lot of self-confidence.

For those who are interested in beauty: Headstand is a good face lift. :)

Headstand has a lot of positive effects on the body:

  • It strengthens the core muscles

  • Blood circulation improves

  • It improves digestion and brain function

I think it makes sense to learn first shoulder stand, then headstand, then forearm stand and then handstand.

Challenges can be to try variations and to hold this asana longer. I learned from people who held the pose for one hour. For me 1 to 5 minutes are enough. In order to experience the above mentioned positive effects this pose must be held longer than 5 breaths. One should aim for 25 breaths minimum.

Headstand

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People who don’t practice yoga usually combine yoga with lotus pose (padmasana) and headstand (sirsasana).

In Ashtanga yoga a headstand is part of the closing sequence. At the end of second series seven different forms of sirsasana are exercised.

Headstand can be learned in one session.

  • In the movie ‘The breathing God’ one can watch how B.K.S. Iyengar teaches a man headstand. This man had never done yoga before, it was the film maker. He was able to get into headstand very quickly. Within 10 minutes or less this man got into headstand alone and he could hold it. Iyengar only told him what to do. There were no hands on adjustments. The situation was challenging as the student had a lot of viewers.

  • I learned it in one session, too. Years ago I practiced with the Sivananda people. Sirsasana is the first asana out of the twelve basic ones in their system. They know how to teach it.

Usually yoga beginners have such a huge respect and even fear to get into headstand. It’s not necessary. It’s very unlikely that one falls out of this pose. I fell out perhaps twice within decades. Nothing happened. The folded hands behind the head prevent that one falls backwards. Nevertheless I always want to have space enough in front of me in case I fall. If one falls against a wall one might injure oneself.

The main two mistakes:

  1. Most people who struggle with this pose have the elbows too far away from each other. My arms are almost parallel on the floor. The wrist press into the floor.

  2. Never ever go to a wall!!!! Don’t do it. Fear will become worse. I’ve seen it so often.

There are many possibilities to get into the pose. It’s easier when the legs are bent, when moving into this asana. I’m glad that I can get into the pose with straight legs again, yet this is a bit more challenging.

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  1. step: Learn to get into a basic handstand.

  2. step: Hold this asana longer, 5 minutes could be a doable goal. Self-confidence will grow.

  3. step: Exercise variations.

In order to check if the body is parallel to the wall one must take a picture. The yoga poses feel differently than they look like. A picture tells the truth.

I plan to go to a Sivananda yoga class again, after so many years. I mean they taught me how to get into headstand. Perhaps they can teach me pincha mayurasana, too.