Headstand – Shirshasana

Headstand is also known as the King of asanas because this yoga pose is considered to be a master in curing many diseases. Headstand is one of the most effective asanas for body and mind. Mastering Shirshasana requires a bit of strength, but it is mainly a matter of concentration and awareness.

Basic instructions

  1. Sit on your knees and hold your elbows to measure the ideal distance. Then bring your arms to the floor under your shoulders.
  2. Keeping your elbows there, bring your hands closer and interlock your fingers to form a cup.
  3. Place the top of your head on the floor, with the back of your head held by your cupped hands.
  4. Keeping your head and your elbows there, straighten your knees and lift your hips upward. Keeping your weight on your elbows, walk with your feet toward your head, keeping your knees straight. Keep walking until your hips are directly over your shoulders.
  5. Slowly lift one foot at a time off the floor, bringing your knees in toward your chest. Hold this position for one breath, pushing your elbows into the floor.
  6. Keeping your knees bent and together, slowly straighten both legs to the ceiling.
    Focus on a point, keep pushing your elbows into the floor, and breathe slowly and deeply.

Coming out of the Pose

To come down, keep one foot toward the ceiling, and with control, lower the other foot to the floor.
Relax in the Child’s Pose for 30 seconds.

Benefits of Headstand

The Headstand has many benefits, both physically and mentally. Bellow you can find an overview of the most common benefits. As in each yoga exercise, the duration of holding the pose determines largely the effect of a pose. The longer you hold a pose, the better the effects of the pose. It is also important to stand as still and comfortably as possible in a yoga posture.

  • Headstand balances the heart and the circulatory system by inverting the body. The gravity helps to bring the blood in the veins towards the heart
  • Breathing and the circulatory systems are strengthened
  • The brains, spinal cord and the rest of the nervous system are provided with an increased blood stream rich in nutrients.
  • Any condition of the nerves, eyes, ears, nose and throat can be improved
  • Shirshasana is a remedy for constipation
  • Increased memory and intellectual capacity
  • Improved concentration, willpower and focus
  • Headstand stimulates a physical and mental feeling of harmony and balance
  • Reduced fluid retention in the legs by inversion of the body
  • The thyroid gland, pituitary gland and pineal gland are stimulated. As a consequence the other endocrine glands are coordinated and stimulated
  • An increase in blood pressure has a positive effect on the brains, eyes and ears
  • Mental fatigue, depression and fears are improved
  • Stimulation of the function of the central nervous system
  • The baroreceptors are stimulated which allows the body to regulate the blood pressure better
  • Positive effect on the heart because of an inverted blood pressure
  • Strengthening of the back, shoulder and arm muscles
  • The blood circulation and the lymphatic system is stimulated throughout the body
  • Improvement of digestion and secretion of toxins
200 hour hatha yoga teacher training
200 hr hatha yoga teacher training

Contraindications & cautions

  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Neck issues
  • Shoulder issues
  • Recent surgery or inflammation in your head region (for example ears, eyes, nose, etc.)
  • Arthritis or osteoporosis
  • Brain injuries
  • Lower-back and spinal issues (e.g. chronic pain, herniated disc, sciatica, SI-joint instability)
  • Acute migraine or headache
  • For asthma or other breathing disorders: holding only for short durations and skipping altogether if it causes too much discomfort, nausea, or shortness of breath
  • Practitioner younger than seven, because the skull is still a bit soft and it is safer not to place weight on it yet

Are you interested to learn more about the Headstand and would you like to learn how to teach Shirshasana to beginning yoga students? Register for the Arhanta Yoga teacher training course in India and the Netherlands.

Discover more inverted poses such as the Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana) and the Plough (Halasana).

Read more about more Hatha Yoga exercises for beginners.