Known as the King of asanas, Headstand or Sirsasana is one of the most beneficial poses for the body and mind. It reverses the normal effects of gravity, relieves low back pressure, allows the heart to rest, and aids in circulation. If practiced regularly, it will improve memory, concentration, and help prevent back problems. Going upside down brings a fresh supply of oxygen-rich blood to the brain, and also makes you breathe deeply.
So how do you get into this pose? Well lets start with some contraindications first:
Do not attempt this pose if you have; High Blood Pressure, cervial disk issues, glaucoma, or if you experience any pressure or discomfort in the head, eyes, ears, or neck, come down.
Getting into the pose:
1. It is nice to place a folded blanket on the floor, and position your mat at the wall if you are just beginning. Kneel down on your mat and place your forarms on the blanket, keep your elbows shoulder distance apart. Interlace your fingers keeping the bottom pinky finger tucked in and your palms together.
2.Place the crown of the head down nuzzled inbetween your hands and forearms. Place the head so that you are closer to the forehead than the back of the head, this will keep the cervical spine in alignment.
3.Straighten the legs, raise the hips, and walk in until the torso is almost perpendicular. Use your arms by pressing down into the mat (especially when first starting this pose, keep more weight in your arms and exptend the head down into the ground). Open the chest.
4.Slowly bend your knees in to your chest and lift up your feet off the mat, pulling your hips backwards as you do so. You can use the wall here and rest your hips, make sure to press down into your forearms and crown of the head being careful not to bend the neck backwards. It also help to do a little hop up with the legs if needed. Pause here, if you are just beginning this is a great practice point, then you can come down and rest in childs pose.
5. Using your abdominals and extending down with the forearms, slowly straighten your legs. Stretch the legs away from the hips. Move the front ribs in and extend out throught the ball of each foot. To come out if you want to work the core more, lower the legs straight taking the hips back as you slowly bring the feet to the mat. Keep pulling the core in. Alternatively you can bent the knees in and slowly lower. Rest in childs pose for at least six deep breaths.
Headstand really is a wonderful and beneficial pose. The more you practice the better it will feel. Once you get more comfortable you can begin to practice more variations with the legs(that will be another post). I hope you enjoy and consider making Sirsasana part of your daily practice.