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Headstand/Salamba Shirshasana
Head stand side view

Sirsasana, Shirshasana (sher-SHAH-sahn-ah[1][needs IPA]; Sanskrit: शीर्षासन; IAST: Śīrṣāsana), Sirshasana, or Headstand is an asana.

In the Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana),[2] the body is completely inverted, and held upright supported by the forearms, while the crown of the head rests lightly on the floor.

Sirsasana is nicknamed "king" of all the asanas.[3][4][5][6][7]


The name comes from the Sanskrit words Shirsha (शीर्ष, Śīrṣa) meaning "head",[8] and Asana (आसन, Āsana) meaning "posture" or "seat".[9]


Sirsasana video

Ardha sirsasana (Dolphin pose) can be used to build the upper body strength required for Sirsasana.

To achieve this asana the elbows and hands should be making an equilateral triangle on the ground, and one should keep the elbows directly underneath the shoulders and use equal pressure on each elbow with slight pressure on the head and neck throughout the entire asana. Keep the palms upturned, so that you can place the back of your head gently inside the cup of your hands. Determining the point of contact on the top of the head is skill that is developed with time and practice. Ideally, try to identify the spot on the head that is two to three finger-widths back of the hairline. This helps to maintain an appropriate amount of natural curvature (lordosis) in the cervical spine. (DO NOT TURN THE HEAD while inverted or inverting).

From this position, walk the feet back toward the face, stacking the hips over the shoulders. As the hips come over the shoulders, press down through the elbows Slowly, bring the hips back, allowing the pelvis to be directly over the shoulders. Keep walking the feet and pelvis back until there is no weight in the feet. Slowly, bend one knee and then the other so that both knees are pulled into the chest. Hold here, and experiment with the position of the pelvis, until a state of balance is felt. This state of balance becomes obvious when the yogi senses equal pressure on both elbows and gentle pressure on the top of the head.

It is possible to do this with your back near to a wall but be sure to keep enough distance from the wall to allow the pelvis to stack correctly over the shoulders.

Once this bent-knee headstand position feels settled, slowly inhale the knees up, while keeping them bent, and keep the heels tucked in toward the hamstrings as close as possible. This adds another component of challenge to the balance and control of the asana.

Take a deep inhale, and 'breathe' the heels up, coming into the full expression of the asana. The legs are Active when fully extended. This means gently holding the legs together so that the feet touch. Use subtle corrections in the asana to maintain balance.

It is impossible to intellectualize a headstand. Sirsasana is about motor skills and spatial awareness. As with all asanas, the breathing guides the movement. Use the inhale to create lift, and use the exhale to release fear. When we find our balance in this asana, the amount of muscle energy required to hold the asana for a few minutes decreases dramatically.


Like most inverted positions, the practice of sirsasana may increase the flow of blood to the brain, improve memory and other functions of the cerebrum. Included in the physiological benefits are the drainage of blood and lymph which are held in reserve in the legs. Any inversion, when the legs are held over the heart, helps to move stored fluids into the core for oxygenation, filtration and elimination of metabolic/cellular wastes.[10] [11]

Contraindications and cautions[edit]

The asana is contraindicated in the following situations: high blood pressure,[12] heart palpitations, glaucoma,[12] detached retina, conjunctivitis, brain disease, brain injury, menstruation, obesity, neck injury, and back injury. If you are pregnant, consult with your physician before doing this asana.


Transliteration English Image
Salamba Shirshasana 2 Headstand 2 [1]
Salamba Shirshasana 3 Headstand 3 [2]
Baddha Hasta Shirshasana Bound Hands Headstand [3]
Baddha Konasana Shirshasana Bound Angle Pose in Headstand [4]
Eka Pada Shirshasana Single Leg Headstand [5]
Mukta Hasta Shirshasana Free Hands Headstand [6]
Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana Single Leg Revolved Headstand [7]
Parshva Shirshasana Side Headstand [8]
Parshvaikapada Shirshasana Single Leg Headstand [9]
Upavishtha Konasana Shirshasana Seated Angle Pose in Headstand [10]
Urdhva Padmasana in Sirsasana Upward Lotus in Headstand [11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Budilovsky, Joan; Adamson, Eve (2000). The complete idiot's guide to yoga (2 ed.). Penguin. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-02-863970-3. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "Yoga Journal - Supported Headstand". Retrieved 2011-04-11. 
  3. ^ Iyengar, B. K. S. (1970). Light on yoga: yoga dīpikā. Schocken Books. p. 127. Retrieved 11 April 2011. "... Sirsasana the king of all asanas and the reasons are not hard to find." 
  4. ^ Iyengar, Geeta (1 June 1998). Yoga: A Gem for Women. Allied Publishers. p. 187. ISBN 978-81-7023-715-0. Retrieved 11 April 2011. "Sirsasana is termed the 'King of Asanas'." 
  5. ^ Hoare, Sophy (1977). Yoga. Macdonald Educational. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-356-06012-5. Retrieved 11 April 2011. "Sirsasana is traditionally known as the king of the Asanas. As in Sarvangasana, the upside-down position benefits the entire body : the force of gravity pulling in the opposite direction from usual has a ..." 
  6. ^ Ramdev, Swami (1 March 2006). Yog Its Philosophy & Practice. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. p. 92. ISBN 978-81-89235-15-4. Retrieved 11 April 2011. "As you may like, do Savasana or stand up straight after Sirsasana, so that the blood circulation which flowed towards the ... Benefits: This asansa is the king of all asansa. This provides pure blood to the brain, which makes the eyes, ..." 
  7. ^ Norberg, Ulrica; Lundberg, Andreas (8 April 2008). Hatha Yoga: The Body's Path to Balance, Focus, and Strength. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. p. 105. ISBN 978-1-60239-218-2. Retrieved 11 April 2011. "Sirsasana is called the king of the asanas because it helps to open Sahasrara chakra, the crown chakra, and it stabilizes the pituitary gland." 
  8. ^ "Shirshasana A -". Retrieved 2011-04-11. 
  9. ^ Sinha, S.C. (1 June 1996). Dictionary of Philosophy. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD. p. 18. ISBN 978-81-7041-293-9. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  10. ^ Sivananda, Swami. "Sirshasana benefits by Swami Sivananda". 
  11. ^ Anatomy of Hatha Yoga, H. David Coulter
  12. ^ a b Kathleen Summers. "Sirsasana: Can You Bleed From the Headstand?" (blog by yoga and medical expert). Retrieved November 21, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Yoga Journal