In this post I will demonstrate a safe way to practice Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Head pose, or headstand). It is called the “king of asanas” for various reasons. It is mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pratipika as an asana that will cure diseases as the practitioner builds time in the pose. Before you scoff at such claims, realize that Guruji practiced this pose well into his 90s.
First clear the room.
The setup is a folded sticky mat with the folded edge toward the wall and a folded blanket with a the folded edge toward the wall.
Now stand in Tadasana to learn the “base”
Interlace the fingers all the way to the webbing so they are facing straight across. this is the correct hand position.
Now find the tops of your ears with your index finger
And trace it all the way to the top. This is the top of your head where you will be balancing. Make a finger nail indent so you know what part of the head to place on the ground.
Next, take your folded hands behind the skull and move your elbows in shoulder level. This is much more narrow than you think.
Now take this knowledge to the props. Kneel down and place folded fingers at wall on props and bring your elbows well in to be shoulder width.
Place the head in cupped shaped fingers and the finger nail indent spot directly on the floor.
Tuck toes under and press thighs up toward ceiling like Downward facing dog pose.
Walk in, bend knees and raise one leg high in the air.
Hop up and quickly straighten legs.
Press forearms down mightily, don’t let the shoulders shrug.
For balance take one toe mound off wall and press up. Repeat feet.
Then flex heels.
Then both toe mounds up and tailbone forward at the same time. You are in the classic pose now.
To safely come down land both heels at wall again.
Come down one leg at at time.
Turn around and do adho mukha virasana with cupped shaped fingers to release the neck.
At first don’t hold for long. Just learn how to safely enter and exit the pose. You can only go up ONCE if you have not been practicing this pose for less than a year. See Inversions and Eye Problems for explanations.
That being said. Don’t attempt if you have neck problems, high blood pressure, glaucoma, or are menstruating.
Also Salamba Sarvangasana must be done after this pose to calm the nervous system. See Light on Yoga for ill effects of solely doing Salamba Sirsasana without Salmaba Sarvangasana.
Inversions are a hallmark of Iyengar yoga practice and will bring many wondrous effects to your body’s many systems with regular practice.