Sirasasana is standing on the head posture. Since you use your hands as support, this asana is also termed as Salamba Sirasasana or supported headstand posture.
Procedure for Sirasasana
- You should use a folded blanket to provide padding or cushion to your forearms and head. First, you should kneel on the floor. You should clasp the fingers of both hands together and place your forearms on the ground, with the elbows remaining at shoulder width. You should roll your upper arms forward slightly and press your inner wrists into the ground firmly. You should place the crown of your head on the ground. Beginners should press the bases of their palms together, while snuggling the back of their head against clasped hands. After gaining experience, you can open your hands and place the back of your head into your open palms.
- You should inhale and slowly lift your knees from the ground. Your feet should be close to your elbows with elevated heels. You should now lift actively through the top of your thighs in an inverted ‘V’ form. The shoulder blades should be firm against the back and you should lift the shoulder blades towards the tail bone to keep the chest front. This will prevent the weight of your shoulders from collapsing on your head and neck.
- You should exhale and lift your feet more away from the ground, with both feet together. If necessary, you can bend your knees during this time. You should lift the legs (or the thighs if you have bent your knees) in a perpendicular position to the ground, keeping the tail bone firm against the back of your pelvis. You should turn your upper thighs slightly inward and press the heels actively towards the ceiling. If you had bent the knees, you should straighten them now. The center of your arches, the center of your pelvis and the center of your crown should be in alignment.
- You should firm up the outer arms inwards and soften your fingers. You should continue the press of your shoulder blades against your back, while widening the shoulders and drawing them towards your tailbone. Your body weight should be evenly balanced on your two forearms. Your tailbone should continue its upward lift towards your heels. When the back portions of your legs are completely lengthened through your heels, you should maintain that lengthening and press upward through the balls of your big toes, so that your inner legs are marginally longer than the outer legs.
- Beginners should maintain this position only for 10 seconds. You can slowly add 5 or 10 seconds every week until you are comfortable in this posture up to 3 minutes. After a few weeks, you can add 5 or 10 seconds each day. You can stay in this position as long as you are comfortable. You should finally come down slowly while exhaling and you should not lose the lift of your shoulder blades. Both feet should touch the ground at the same time. The lifting and bringing down your legs should be smooth and not jerky. Initially, this may not be possible for beginners, but they will get perfection with constant practice. You can remain in Sirasasana even up to 20 or 30 minutes, but you should ensure that you are absolutely comfortable.
- After resting for 5 minutes, you should drink a cup of milk, which is very important. You should not remain for long periods in Sirasasana in summer, but you can extend the time during winter.
Benefits of Sirasasana
Sirasasana calms your brain and relieves stress as well as mild depression. It stimulates the pineal and pituitary glands. This asana strengthens your arms, legs, lungs, and spine. Sirasasana also tones up the abdominal organs. It is therapeutic for insomnia, asthma, sinusitis and infertility. Sirasasana is highly useful in maintaining Brahmacharya and prevents wet dreams or spermatorrhoea. It invigorates, vivifies and energizes. Memory power increases by the practice of Sirasasana. The head receives lots of blood and Prana.
Swami Shivananda of Divine Life Society, Rishikesh has mentioned that Sirasasana can cure all diseases related to eye, head, nose, stomach, throat, liver, lungs, spleen, genitor-urinary system, gonorrhoea, syphilis, deafness, renal colic, piles and diabetes. Many ovarine and uterine diseases of women get cured. It relieves symptoms of menopause. Swami Shivananda has asserted that Sirasasana, Sarvangasana and Paschimottanasana are enough to keep a person completely healthy and other asanas need not even be practiced. These three are so powerful and important, according to him.
Precautions and Contraindications for Sirasasana
Persons suffering from back injury, heart condition, headache, high blood pressure, neck injury and low blood pressure should not practice this asana. Women should avoid Sirasasana during menstruation and pregnancy. You can do Sarvangasana before Sirasasana, though a few yoga schools reverse this order.
Beginners should practice this asana only under the guidance of an experienced yoga master. Otherwise, they can initially practice this by remaining close to a wall so that they do not fall on their backs. When they rest their legs on the wall, they will not be in a perpendicular position, but it will be easy for them to come to a straight position without too much difficulty. With practice, they will be able to reach the correct position without the support of the wall.
Variation of Sirasasana
The variation of Sirasasana is Eka Pada Sirasasana or one leg headstand posture. After reaching and getting stabilized in the Sirasasana position, you should exhale and lower the right leg until it is parallel to the ground, but your left leg should be firm and remain perpendicular to the ground. You can hold this position for up to 30 seconds and lift back the right leg to the perpendicular position, inhaling. You can repeat this with your left leg for the same period.
Preparatory an Follow-Up Asanas
The preparatory asanas for Sirasasana are Sarvangasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Uttanasana and Virasana. The follow-up asanas are Balasana and Adho Mukha Svanasana.