Alongside Padmasana (Lotus Pose) Headstand may be considered the exemplar archetype of yoga. Perhaps it seemed simple and even “fun”when you were a kid, but a graceful entry into and exit from this dignified pose might prove to be more challenging than expected. However, it’s well worth practicing, so stick with it!
A headstand practice (or any inverted posture) should be a routine part of your practice. Here five reasons why:
1. Reversing the flow of blood by raising the heart above the head resists the downward pull of gravity, providing a natural facelift and supporting a youthful complexion.
2. Turning upside down brings a “blush” to the cheeks as increased blood circulates easily from the heart directly to the head. Be sure to breathe deeply and stay relaxed so that you don’t overdo it.
3. Hair follicles are stimulated (a rare occurrence) providing a welcomed massage for the scalp and (according to yogis) preventing the growth of grey hair.
4. Any water retained in the feet (edema) is drained, which aids to prevent the onset and prevalence of varicose veins.
5. You will enjoy both a literal and a figurative change in perspective. Seeing things from the bottom up helps to rejuvenate the brain and awakens the mind to further insights.
Headstand impacts the Sahasrara (Crown) chakra, located at the top of the head. Physiologically, the crown chakra impacts the central nervous system, cerebral cortex, and pituitary gland.
When in balance, the Sahasrara supports the wisdom of the body, the intelligence of the mind, and a reliable spiritual connection. One has a sense of overall health and well being when the crown chakra is finely tuned, with a strong connection to intuition and “gut instinct.”Yoga considers the crown chakra to be the seat of enlightenment and thereby the source of infinite bliss.
Not surprisingly, malfunction in this region can manifest in psychological disturbances, such as depression, alienation, and confusion. A person might also experience severe headaches or migraines or a feeling of being disconnected with the community and/or the world at large.
The shoulders and shoulder girdle respectively are strengthened, as you press down through the forearms to lift upwards through the spine. Engage the quadriceps to keep the legs firm, supporting the back and aiding in balance. The entire core of the body is strengthened as you work to maintain your balance in this upside down position. This includes the transverse and oblique abdominals as well as the erector spinae muscles along the spine.
People suffering from high or low blood pressure and eye or ear concerns (particularly glaucoma) should avoid this pose unless otherwise directed by a physician. If you have not practiced Sirsasana before, it is not advised to start doing so after becoming pregnant. People with neck injuries or back pain should attempt an alternative inversion.
To achieve the same benefits of Sirsasana without incurring the risks involved, lie on your back and prop your legs up onto the wall. If you feel ready to start working towards Headstand, be sure to have a spotter or experienced instructor with you, and start in the corner of a room, using the wall for support.