My background is Ashtanga Yoga and this Asana is such an important part of the tradition. From a teaching perspective there is so much material to draw from. I wrote about beginning a headstand practice back in March and I guess you could say that May will be a companion piece to that.
I am blessed to be able to teach a variety of different level of practioners in a month and I am excited to be able to work at building up to headstand and all its traditional variations. Be warned however that this will also require a lot of core work during the month. A breakdown of what I will be working on in May follows. I am looking forward to growing both stronger and lighter with you as well as exploring the roots of my lineage.
“The entire body must stand upside down on the strength of the arms alone. Aspirants should take great care with Sirshasana.” says Pattabhi Jois in the Yoga Mala
The most important thing is that you’re not pressing your head into the ground, and that you’re maintaining balance by engaging Mula bandha, and using the strength of your upper body. The head should be barely grazing the earth as you support yourself in other areas. You should feel light enough to float, but firm enough to stay grounded.
It is fairly common knowledge that Yogis attribute many benefits to headstand:
• The eyes are purified by the inflow of warm blood
• Memory is increased
• The adrenal glands are flushed and detoxified
• Improve circulation
• Increase your digestive fire
In traditional yoga teaching you could only progress to a more advanced posture after you had satisfactorily demonstrated to your teacher that you could do the postures that have come before it. This guarantees that the new more advanced posture can be performed safely. To be adequately prepared for the Headstand (Sirsasana) you have to have first mastered
Legs up the wall – Karani Viparita – (Viparita = turned around, reversed, inverted –
Karani = doing, making, action)
Bridge – Setu Bandhasana – (Setu = dam, dike, or bridge – Bandha = lock)
Seated forward fold – Paschimottanasana – (Paschimottana = intense stretch of the west – Pashima = west – Uttana = intense stretch)
Pavanamuktasana – (Pavan = wind – Mukta – relieve)
Reverse Plank – Purvottanasana – (Intense stretch of the east Purvo = east)
Shoulder stand – Salamba Sarvangasana – (Salamba = with support -Sarva = all
Anga = limb)
Plow – Halasana – (Hala = plow)
Once mastered Sirshasana – Baddha Hasta Sirsasana or the classic bound Headstand is not the end of the road, there are seven variations of headstand in the Intermediate Series of Ashtanga Yoga and no these are not the leg variations more common to Vinyasa Yoga, but arm variations. Often they are nicknamed “the Seven Deadlies”
These headstands come at the end of second series.
It’s super important to make sure you’re totally grounded in headstand before you attempt these and I will only be practicing them during my Intermediate classes.
Baddha Hasta Sirsasana B or Bound hand Headstand
Baddha Hasta Sirsasana C or Forearm Headstand
Baddha Hasta Sirsasana D or Pinching Shoulders
Mukta Hasta Sirsasana or Tripod Headstand
Mukta Hasta Sirsasana B
Mukta Hasta Sirsasana C or Iron Cross
xoxo Minh –
Sherri (Minh) Lowe is a 200 E-RYT teacher and co-founder of Yogatique Bangkok. She is a fifty-two year old Canadian transplant living in Bangkok. When she is not rolling around on her yoga mat, she enjoys cycling, trying new vegan recipes, a cold beer, talking to random dogs, lingering in coffee shops and exploring Bangkok. When not pursing these activities, she is often writing about them