Salamba Shirshasana, often shortened to Shirshasana, or Yoga Headstand is an inverted asana in modern yoga as exercise; it was described as both an asana and a mudra in classical hatha yoga, under different names. It has been called the king of all asanas.
Etymology and origins
The name Śīrṣāsana is relatively recent; the pose itself is much older, but was known by other names. Like other inversions, it was practised as Viparita Karani, described as a mudra in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and other classical texts on haṭha yoga. Hemacandra's 11th century Yogaśāstra names it Duryodhanāsana ("Duryodhana's pose") or Kapālīkarana ("head technique"), while the 18th century Joga Pradīpikā calls it Kapālī āsana, head posture; it is number 17 of the set of 84 asanas described and illustrated there. However, the 19th century Sritattvanidhi uses the name Śīrṣāsana as well as Kapālāsana. The Malla Purana, a 13th-century manual for wrestlers, names but does not describe 18 asanas including Śīrṣāsana.
In the Supported Headstand (Salamba Shirshasana), the body is completely inverted, and held upright supported by the forearms and the crown of the head. In his Light on Yoga, B. K. S. Iyengar uses a forearm support, with the fingers interlocked around the head, for the basic posture Shirshasana I and its variations; he demonstrates a Western-style tripod headstand, the palms of the hands on the ground with raised elbows, for Shirshasana II and III; and other supports for further variants. Iyengar names and illustrates ten variants in all, as well as several preparatory and transitional poses.
Shirshasana permits many variations, including:
|Salamba Shirshasana 2||Headstand 2 (palms down, shoulder width)|||
|Salamba Shirshasana 3||Headstand 3 (palms down, in front of face)|||
|Baddha Hasta Shirshasana||Bound Hands Headstand|||
|Baddha Konasana Shirshasana||Bound Angle Pose in Headstand|||
|Dvi Pada Viparita Dandasana||Headstand Backbend|||
|Eka Pada Shirshasana[a]||Single Leg Headstand|||
|Mukta Hasta Shirshasana||Free Hands Headstand|||
|Parivrttaikapada Shirshasana||Single Leg Revolved Headstand|||
|Parshva Shirshasana||Side Headstand|||
|Parshvaikapada Shirshasana||Single Leg Headstand|||
|Upavistha Konasana Shirshasana||Seated Angle Pose in Headstand|||
|Urdhva Padmasana in Shirshasana||Upward Lotus in Headstand|||
Mandalasana, Circle pose, is not a single variation but a sequence of movements in Shirshasana in which the legs move in a full circle around the body from one headstand variation to the next.
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- Hatha Yoga Pradipika III.7
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... Sirsasana the king of all asanas and the reasons are not hard to find.
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Sirsasana is called the king of the asanas because it helps to open Sahasrara chakra, the crown chakra, and it stabilizes the pituitary gland.
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- Iyengar, B. K. S. (1970). Light on yoga: yoga dīpikā. Schocken Books. pp. 373–377.
- "Circle Pose (Mandalasana): Steps, Precautions And Health Benefits". Retrieved 26 June 2016.
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- Saraswati, Swami Satyananda (2003). Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. Nesma Books India. ISBN 978-81-86336-14-4.
- Saraswati, Swami Satyananda (January 2004). A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Nesma Books India. ISBN 978-81-85787-08-4.