From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Sirsasana)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Shirshasana from front and side

Shirshasana (Sanskrit: शीर्षासन, IAST: śīrṣāsana) Salamba 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[edit]

Headstand (labelled at top Kapālī Āsana) from 1830 manuscript of the Joga Pradīpikā[1]

The name Salamba Shirshasana comes from the Sanskrit words सालम्ब Sālamba meaning "supported", शीर्ष, Śīrṣa meaning "head",[2] and आसन, Āsana meaning "posture" or "seat".[3]

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.[4] Hemacandra's 11th century Yogaśāstra names it Duryodhanāsana ("Duryodhana's pose") or Kapālīkarana ("head technique"),[5] 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.[1] However, the 19th century Sritattvanidhi uses the name Śīrṣāsana as well as Kapālāsana.[6] The Malla Purana, a 13th-century manual for wrestlers, names but does not describe 18 asanas including Śīrṣāsana.[6]


In the Supported Headstand (Salamba Shirshasana), the body is completely inverted, and held upright supported by the forearms and the crown of the head.[7] 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.[8]

The yoga headstand is nicknamed "king" of all the asanas.[9][10][11][12][13] A variety of other asanas can be used to build the required upper body strength and balance.[14]

Shirshasana, alongside Sarvangasana and Padmasana, is one of the asanas most often reported as the cause of an injury.[15][16]


Urdhva Padmasana in Shirshasana

Shirshasana permits many variations, including:

Transliteration English Image
Salamba Shirshasana 2 Headstand 2 (palms down, shoulder width) [1]
Salamba Shirshasana 3 Headstand 3 (palms down, in front of face) [2]
Baddha Hasta Shirshasana Bound Hands Headstand [3]
Baddha Konasana Shirshasana Bound Angle Pose in Headstand [4]
Dvi Pada Viparita Dandasana Headstand Backbend [17]
Eka Pada Shirshasana[a] 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]
Upavistha Konasana Shirshasana Seated Angle Pose in Headstand [10]
Urdhva Padmasana in Shirshasana Upward Lotus in Headstand [11]

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.[18][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This name is used in Light on Yoga for two unrelated asanas, namely this variant of headstand, and for a one-leg-behind-neck sitting pose, an advanced preparatory pose for Dvi Pada Sirsasana with both legs behind the neck.


  1. ^ a b Bühnemann, Gudrun (2007). Eighty-Four Asanas in Yoga: A Survey of Traditions. New Delhi: D. K. Printworld. pp. 47, 151. ISBN 978-8124604175.
  2. ^ "Shirshasana A -". Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  3. ^ Sinha, S. C. (1 June 1996). Dictionary of Philosophy. Anmol Publications. p. 18. ISBN 978-81-7041-293-9.
  4. ^ Hatha Yoga Pradipika III.7
  5. ^ Mallinson, James; Singleton, Mark (2017). Roots of Yoga. Penguin Books. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-241-25304-5. OCLC 928480104.
  6. ^ a b Sjoman, Norman E. (1999) [1996]. The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace (2nd ed.). Abhinav Publications. pp. 56–57, plate 6 (asana 31) and note 89, page 67. ISBN 81-7017-389-2.
  7. ^ "Supported Headstand". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  8. ^ Iyengar, B. K. S. (1979) [1966]. Light on Yoga: Yoga Dipika. Unwin Paperbacks. pp. 179–203.
  9. ^ Iyengar, B. K. S. (1970). Light on yoga: yoga dīpikā. Schocken Books. p. 127. ISBN 9780805203530. ... Sirsasana the king of all asanas and the reasons are not hard to find.
  10. ^ Iyengar, Geeta (1 June 1998). Yoga: A Gem for Women. Allied Publishers. p. 187. ISBN 978-81-7023-715-0.
  11. ^ Hoare, Sophy (1977). Yoga. Macdonald Educational. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-356-06012-5.
  12. ^ Ramdev, Swami (1 March 2006). Yoga: Its Philosophy & Practice. Diamond Pocket Books. p. 92. ISBN 978-81-89235-15-4.
  13. ^ Norberg, Ulrica; Lundberg, Andreas (8 April 2008). Hatha Yoga: The Body's Path to Balance, Focus, and Strength. Skyhorse Publishing. p. 105. ISBN 978-1-60239-218-2. Sirsasana is called the king of the asanas because it helps to open Sahasrara chakra, the crown chakra, and it stabilizes the pituitary gland.
  14. ^ Schumacher, John (July–August 1990). "Preparing for Inversions". Yoga Journal (93): 68–77.
  15. ^ Acott, Ted S.; Cramer, Holger; Krucoff, Carol; Dobos, Gustav (2013). "Adverse Events Associated with Yoga: A Systematic Review of Published Case Reports and Case Series". PLOS ONE. 8 (10): e75515. Bibcode:2013PLoSO...875515C. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075515. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 3797727. PMID 24146758.
  16. ^ Penman, Stephen; Stevens, Philip; Cohen, Marc; Jackson, Sue (2012). "Yoga in Australia: Results of a national survey". International Journal of Yoga. 5 (2): 92–101. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.98217. ISSN 0973-6131. PMC 3410203. PMID 22869991.
  17. ^ Iyengar, B. K. S. (1970). Light on yoga: yoga dīpikā. Schocken Books. pp. 373–377. ISBN 9780805203530.
  18. ^ "Circle Pose (Mandalasana): Steps, Precautions And Health Benefits". Retrieved 26 June 2016.
  19. ^ "Peak Pose: Mandalasana (Headstand Variation)". Retrieved 26 June 2016.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]