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Salamba Sirsasana I
(Headstand 1)

How to perform Headstand 1

Activate your shoulders and upper back muscles as you lift your body up into inverted balance. Use the wall for support if necessary.

What is Salamba Sirsasana I?

Headbalance, or Supported Headstand. This pose is often called “king of the asana.” It is an important pose in Iyengar Yoga practice. Its name is often shortened to Sirsasana.

It is always paired with Shoulderstand (or a pose from the wider Sarvangasana family, such as Setu Bandha) so that the heating and invigorating effects of Headstand can be counteracted by the cooling qualities of Shoulderstand. (Shoulderstand need not be practiced immediately after Headstand, but it should appear somewhere in the sequence after Headstand is taken. Practice Shoulderstand for at least as long as you held Headstand, or even 1.5 or 2 times as long.) Headstand is first learned near the wall, and later practiced freely balancing in the centre of the room.

How to do and when to use Salamba Sirsasana I?

A good foundation in the standing poses and lift strength and opening in the upper arms and shoulders are necessary before learning Headstand. Guidance from a certified teacher is prudent when learning this pose. Stability, confidence, strength, and readiness in the body need to be built progressively. Poses like Adho Mukha Svanasana begin to prepare the body for Headstand. In classical sequencing, Prasarita Padottanasana is often taken immediately before Sirsasana.

Once the pose becomes established in the practitioner, it has a mentally clarifying effect. It is said to sharpen concentration and focus. The blood supply to the whole body is affected, by virtue of the inverted nature of the pose. The tissues of the brain, and important glands like the pituitary, are thought to be benefited from this posture.

Keep in mind that postures from the Sirsasana and Sarvangasana families are to be avoided or approached with extra care if you suffer from chronic dizziness or high blood pressure. If you do indeed suffer from the aforementioned conditions, instead of going straight into any pronounced inversion, prepare yourself mentally and physically. This can be done by assuming milder inversions, such as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or by performing a forward bend sequence consisting of Paschimottasana, Uttanasana, and Adho Mukha Svanasana. To avoid dizziness after completing the inversion, assume a neutral pose such as Forward Virasana. This will let you ground yourself and reconnect to your breath.

Video sequences that include this pose