Asana name: Headstand Pose

Sanskrit name: Shirshasan

Meaning: Headstand Pose

General Benefits:
It improves blood circulation to the brain and eyes, increasing their efficiency; helps to bring the impure blood from the lower region of the body to the heart, relieving strain from the heart, helps to reverse the effects of gravity on the spine which helps to relieve the pressure on the vertebrae and also helps in the re-alignment of the vertebral column, correcting any minor postural defects. Puts pressure on the pituitary gland which helps to increase its efficiency, and in turn the efficiency of all other hormone-producing endocrine glands which are controlled by it. The weight of the abdominal organs on the diaphragm encourages deeper exhalation so that more carbon dioxide and other toxins are removed from the lungs. It also relieves anxiety.

Benefits for Women:

Therapeutic Applications:
Many forms of nervous and glandular disorder, especially those related to the reproductive system, varicose veins, Anxiety, Anger management, Recommended for the prevention of asthma, hay fever, diabetes, menopausal imbalance, headaches and migraine.

Taking the Position:
In standing position, come into a squat, on your toes. Rest the knees on the ground and interlace the fingers of both hands together, placing the hands and forearms to the ground in front of you. The elbows should be one forearm's length apart, about 30cm. Bend forward and place the top of the head on the ground, resting the back of the head between both palms. Straighten both knees. Slowly, walk the toes towards the head. The back, neck and head should form a straight line perpendicular to the ground. Slowly bend the knees, lifting the legs off the ground towards the chest while keeping balance on the forearms and head. Exhale and while inhaling straighten the back and slowly raise the knees towards the ceiling. Straighten the legs and point the toes up, breathing normally.

Releasing the Positions:
To release the asana, slowly bend the knees while maintaining balance. Bend at the hips and bring the knees close to the chest. Straighten the legs and touch the toes to the ground gently. Bend the knees and lower the hips down slowly until your weight is on your legs, bring your upper-body down and rest your forehead on the ground in Child Pose for 15 to 30 seconds. Slowly lift the head and straighten the back upright. Shift your weight forwards onto your toes and straighten your legs one after the other into sitting position. Now slowly bring your weight back onto your elbows and lower yourself into supine position. Separate your feet and let your hands and arms rest a little ways away from the body. Close your eyes, relax all the muscles of your body. Maintain this position breathing slowly and deeply.

Anatomical Focus:
Head, neck, core, arms.

Anatomical Awareness:
On maintaining balance.

Keep the legs straight and toes pointed up. Focus on the breathing in order to calm and quiet the mind.

Jump or fling the legs up to come into the asana.

Precautions & Contraindications:
Heart disease, High or low blood pressure, Thrombosis, Arteriosclerosis, Chronic catarrh, Chronic constipation, Brain diseases, Weak blood vessels in the eyes, Asthma, Excess weight, Chronic or acute neck pain, Stiff neck, Osteoporosis, Kidney problems, Conjunctivitis, Chronic glaucoma, Inflammation of the ears, Blood hemorrhage in the head, Pregnancy and menstruation, During a headache or migraine, Prior aerobic exercise, Beginners may use the support of a wall to guard against losing balance and tumbling down.

Variations & Tips:
If there is difficulty in balancing , then only perform the asana up to step 5 and try to balance in that position. Once balance is achieved after consistent practice, the legs can be straightened with relative ease. Alternatively, in step 4, you may wish to walk the feet forward as much as you can, and then simply lift one leg into the air at a time.

Preparatory Poses:
Dolphin pose is an excellent all-rounder pose to strengthen the arms, shoulders, abdomen and back, as well as to improve flexibility in the hips. Other inverted poses such as Ugrasana (ferocious pose), Sarvangasana (shoulderstand pose) can be practised to.

Follow-up Poses:
Extensive practice of the headstand should always be followed by the Shoulderstand and related postures (fish pose). Otherwise, there will be an imbalance which manifests as edginess and irritability. Shavasana if necessary.