This week’s fun pose friday post is all about a pose I have been working on for a few months now… Supported Headstand or Salamba Sirsasana.

(sah-LOM-bah shear-SHAHS-anna)
salamba = with support (sa = with
alamba = support)
sirsa = head

Ever since I started my yoga teacher training last month, I have made it a personal goal to get into this pose… WITHOUT the help of a wall.  I’ve dabbled in headstand for a few years, but never had the guts to go up in the middle of the room without the comfort of a wall.  I still have a ways to go, but now that I have moved past the fear factor (in a the middle of a room, alone), the next step would be to pop right up in the middle of a full class.  If I can do headstand in the middle of a full $5 Friday class at extendYoga without psyching myself out and/or falling on someone– I’ll be one happy yogi!

Before you read about how to get into headstand and why it’s so great for you, here’s a little video journal about my headstand journey…

Warning: these videos aren’t professional!  (Taken by me on my iPhone.  And yes, I listen to pop music when I practice my headstands- video #2). 🙂

March 25- wobbly, yikes! click photo to watch

April 2- needs work but getting better. click photo to watch

April 11- almost there! click photo to watch

There are many ways and tips to get into this pose and different variations as well.  Here’s what Yoga Journal says:

  • Kneel on the floor. Lace your fingers together and set the forearms on the floor, elbows at shoulder width. Set the crown of your head on the floor. If you are just beginning to practice this pose, press the bases of your palms together and snuggle the back of your head against the clasped hands. More experienced students can open their hands and place the back of the head into the open palms.
  •  Inhale and lift your knees off the floor. Carefully walk your feet closer to your elbows. Actively lift through the top thighs, forming an inverted “V.” Firm the shoulder blades against your back and lift them toward the tailbone so the front torso stays as long as possible.  Tip: when starting out, try to stay in an “egg shape” for at least 8 breaths before you start to move the legs straight up.  Maybe you practice the egg for a few weeks before you even try to extend the legs.  Shout out Flow Yoga Center YTT for this helpful tip!

Me in an “egg shape”

  • Exhale and lift your feet away from the floor. Take both feet up at the same time, even if it means bending your knees and hopping lightly off the floor. As the legs (or thighs, if your knees are bent) rise to perpendicular to the floor, firm the tailbone against the back of the pelvis. Turn the upper thighs in slightly, and actively press the heels toward the ceiling (straightening the knees if you bent them to come up). The center of the arches should align over the center of the pelvis, which in turn should align over the crown of the head.
  • Firm the outer arms inward, and soften the fingers. Continue to press the shoulder blades against the back, widen them, and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the weight evenly balanced on the two forearms. It’s also essential that your tailbone continues to lift upward toward the heels.
  • As a beginning practitioner stay for 10 seconds. Gradually add 5 to 10 seconds onto your stay every day or so until you can comfortably hold the pose for 3 minutes (I’m probabley at about 1 min right now… if I’m lucky). Then continue for 3 minutes each day for a week or two, until you feel relatively comfortable in the pose. Again gradually add 5 to 10 seconds onto your stay every day or so until you can comfortably hold the pose for 5 minutes. Come down with an exhalation, without losing the lift of the shoulder blades, with both feet touching the floor at the same time.

 

Benefits of Supported Headstand: 

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands
  • Strengthens the arms, legs, and spine
  • Strengthens the lungs
  • Tones the abdominal organs
  • Improves digestion
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • Therapeutic for asthma, infertility, insomnia, and sinusitis
  • More benefits from  MindBodyGreen.  Check this out: 10-Reasons-to-Do-a-Headstand-Every-Day
Tip:  This can be a tricky pose for beginners and you want to avoid putting too much weight onto the neck and head when coming in and out of this pose.  You should definitely start practicing this pose against a wall until you get comfortable with how it feels and figure out the proper weight distribution.  On that same note, once you feel you have the balance, proper breathing and strength, don’t be afraid to move away from the wall– this is a big step, but you can do it!