Salamba Sirsasana or Supported Headstand Pose

Benefits, Contraindications, Tips and How to Do

English Name(s)
Supported Headstand Pose
Sanskrit
शीर्षासन / Salamba Śīrṣasana
Pronunciation
sah-LOM-bah shear-SHAHS-anna
Meaning
Salamba : “supported”
Śīrṣa : “head”
āsana: “posture”

Introduction

Also regarded as the King of Yoga Asanas or poses, Salamba Sirsana is a variation of the traditional Headstand pose. It displays a person’s strength, beauty, and control.

The Supported Headstand Pose should only be performed when you are confident that you can handle the pressure of your body weight. It should be practiced early in the morning. Your stomach and bowels should be empty. A 10 to 12 hours interval is required between consuming your meal and practicing this pose.

According to research Headstand may be a helpful pose after rotator cuff injury because it targets two muscles that are often injured in this type of situation. The subscapularis holds down the head while the deltoid abducts your humerus, making them work together for abduction and flexion instead or supraspinatus which could also lead to more pain when practicing headstands.

Muscle Focus

Salamba Sirsasana or Headstand Pose focuses on several muscles such as

  • Core muscles (Transverse Abdominis and Multifidus)
  • Shoulders Muscles (Deltoids)
  • Arms (Biceps Brachii)
  • Upper back (Trapezius and Rhomboids)
  • Buttocks (Glutes) 

Ideal For Health Conditions

  • To experience inversion where the headrests below the heart level.
  • To improve brain functioning.
  • To Improve body and mind coordination.
  • Prevention of Back Ache.

Benefits of Headstand Pose

1. It helps to Improve Brain Functioning

By practicing headstand we can improve our brain functioning. As while practicing this pose our headrests below the heart level. It helps to cure diabetes, headaches, migraine and can also help prevent asthma from occurring.

2. It Stimulates Pituitary and Pineal Glands

Pituitary and pineal glands are located inside of our brain, by practicing headstand we can stimulate these glands hence improving their functioning.

3. It Tones the Spinal Cord

The spinal cord is an important part of our body as it helps in sending messages between the brain and other parts of the body. Practicing headstand regularly can help to tone the spinal cord.

4. It Strengthens Abdominal Muscles and Back Muscles

When we practice headstands, all our body weight rests on our abdomen and back muscles. This leads to their strengthening over time.

5. It Helps in Improving Blood Circulation

Since all our body weight is resting on the head and legs while practicing headstand, the blood circulation is improved. This leads to better oxygenation of different parts of the body. Varicose veins are also reduced by practicing this pose since the pressure in your legs and feet decreases.

6. It Helps in Curing Insomnia

Insomnia can be caused due to various reasons such as stress, anxiety, etc. Practicing a headstand for a few minutes every day can help in curing insomnia.

7. It Enhances Lung Capacity

Headstand helps in improving the breathing process, this leads to increased lung capacity. This is useful for people who are suffering from asthma and other pulmonary diseases.

8. It Benefits the Digestive System

Practicing a headstand can help in reducing tension from our torso as well as abdominal muscles which is beneficial for digestion hence improving our digestive system functioning.

9. It Stimulates the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is responsible for removing toxins from our body. Practicing headstand helps in stimulating the lymphatic system, hence aiding in toxin removal. This asana also lowers stress levels and can prevent premature greying of hair.

10. It Strengthens Joints and Ligaments

Headstand is a weight-bearing pose and therefore it helps in strengthening our joints as well as ligaments over time.

11. It Improves Balance and Focus

Since a headstand requires a lot of concentration and balance, it helps in improving both these aspects. It can be helpful for people who are looking to improve their focus and balance.

Contraindications

Salamba Sirsasana is an advanced-level pose and should be performed with utmost caution. It should be practiced under the strict supervision of your yoga teacher.

If you have a back or neck injury, then you must skip this asana. Pregnant women should not perform it as it can harm them and their fetus.

People with fat bodies should avoid practicing this pose because their body weight can end up placing unwanted pressure on their neck and eyes.

If you have high blood pressure, then you should refrain from practicing this pose. Also, if you are suffering from heart conditions, you can give this asana a miss.

Variations

  • Lotus Pose in Headstand
  • Bound Hands Headstand
  • Bound Angle Pose in Headstand

Preparatory Pose

  • Low Plank or Four Limb Staff Pose
  • Shoulder Stand

Beginner’s Tips

  • Beginners should practice Plank Pose or Chaturanga Dandasana, in order to strengthen their arms and shoulders. This will help you in getting the balance needed for practicing this asana.
  • You can also practice Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) before attempting Sirsasana.
  • Beginners can also start by practicing it with wall support.
  • it is important to note that if you are new to this pose, then it is advised to practice under the guidance of an expert yoga teacher.


How to do Headstand Pose

  • Start by kneeling down on your mat with your knees hip-width apart and place two folded blankets over each other next to your left knee side, so that when you turn around all four corners of one blanket are facing towards you from behind. Place a third blanket perpendicular on top of these two blankets such that it forms a T shape at the bottom edge of the stack and its middle is aligned with the first stack’s top edge.
  • Place one hand on the top blanket, keep your knees hip-width apart and bring your head down to the floor in between them.
  • Lift both of your legs off from the ground by pressing into your palms and lower forearms on either side of your torso. The feet should be parallel to each other; toes pointing away from you towards your buttocks, knees together with ankles crossed over each other or a few inches apart (whichever is comfortable for you). Bring both legs straight up in the air as high as possible without bending at the hips or knees, while still keeping all four corners firmly planted on the mat like a tripod base.
  • If you can, slowly straighten your legs and extend them up towards the ceiling. Keep your tailbone pointing down to lengthen your lower back and if possible, clasp your hands together behind your back or interlace fingers. Gaze straight ahead or slightly up. Hold for five breaths.
  • To release: exhale and slowly lower both legs to the floor, coming into Plank Pose or Chaturanga Dandasana again before resting in Child’s Pose.

Mental Benefits of Headstand Pose

  • When you are in the headstand, your body is inverted and your mind has to work hard to adjust.
  • Improve your focus and concentration.
  • Strengthens your memory.
  • Stimulates your pituitary gland and increases its production of growth hormones.
  • Anxiety or stress-related problems.

Bottom Line

Salamba Sirsasana is one of the most revered asanas in yoga. While it might be challenging to perform, you mustn’t give up. If you feel that your body isn’t ready for this pose yet, make sure to practice a few preparatory postures first and then move on to this one.

1 sources
  1. https://meridian.allenpress.com/ijyt/article-abstract/16/1/39/137781/Headstand-for-Rotator-Cuff-Tear-Shirshasana-or?redirectedFrom=fulltext
Meera Watts
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes, and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa, and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali), and Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur).

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