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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shirshasana - Yogasana

By Robin Brain

As pointed out earlier this is actually a variety of Viparitakarani mudra. It is popularly called the head stand as in it one stands on the head, which is called 'shirsha' in Sanskrit. Sitting on the seat with the feet behind and knees in front, the head is lowered down. The fingers of both the hands are interlocked into each other, and keeping the elbows on the seat a comfortable distance apart, the head is placed on the seat supported from behind with the hands. Care should be taken to see that the top of the head and not the forehead touches the ground. This is essential because otherwise the neck would bend when the body is held inverted, which may cause undue pressures on the cervical vertebrae. After setting the head, hands and the elbows on the seat, the knees are brought as near the head as possible, making the back erect in an inverted position. The hips should be raised slowly. Now the knees are raised from the seat without any jerk, keeping the legs folded. This is. most important stage which must be mastered completely before proceeding further.

Balancing the weight of the body on the triangular base with the head at the apex, and keeping the legs still folded at the knees, the thighs are now raised slowly until they become perpendicular to the ground. When steadiness of balance is achieved at this stage, the legs may be stretched ultimately, so that 'the body stands erect on the head. Some persons try to learn the procedure with the help of a wall. But that is not necessary at all. If one proceeds stage by stage, not hurrying up impatiently to throw the legs up at once, the posture can be learned and kept steady in a short time. While coming to the starting position the legs should be folded first, then the thighs should be lowered, and ultimately the knees may be kept on the seat. It is not necessary to stand up and remain standing for some time after completing the posture as is advised by some yoga teachers.

Holding the body upside down helps the veins to carry blood to the heart by the force of gravity, and also helps to remove congestion from the limbs and abdomen. Circulation of blood in the head is promoted. Ordinarily a time of two minutes may be ideal for this pose. One should begin with ten to fifteen seconds and increase the time gradually.