Shirshasana for Better Health
It is very rare that we are able to see the world upside down, and regularly viewing the world from this angle can bring a variety of amazing benefits to our life. This posture may look tough to those who haven’t attempted it. Nevertheless, it is an extremely powerful asana.
It is called the ”king of asanas” because of its overall effect on the whole body. For beginners, it is better to start this in a corner so that you can practice it without the fear of falling down. Ask a friend to help you with this in the beginning.
Shirshasana and Yoga for Skin Care: Turning ourselves upside down is not only an amazing practice for health...but for beauty. A Shirshasana can reduce facial wrinkles, and if practiced regularly, is a natural ’face-lift’. This is because it reverses the effects of gravity and allows the skin to rest in the other direction.
Furthermore, yoga for skin care increases the circulation to the face, which brings much needed nutrients and oxygen to rejuvenate and remove wrinkle causing toxins. The result is smoother, clearer, brighter & glowing skin.
Thicker Hair, Fewer Grays: Shirshasana can actually convert gray hair back to its natural color! It will certainly delay the onset of gray hair. This is due to the increase in blood supply and nutrients to the hair follicles in the scalp.
Balding can also be prevented or slowed, and thicker, healthier hair are produced.
Balanced Hormones and Endocrine System: Shirshasana stimulates and provides refreshed blood to the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. The health and strength of these glands are absolutely vital for our well being as they are the master glands and regulate the functioning of all the other glands in the body including the sexual hormones (better sex!), the thyroid, pineal, and the adrenals.
The powerful stress releasing effects of the Shirshasana (you can’t really be depressed if you’re standing on your head!) further rebalance the adrenal glands and thus physical and emotional health is improved.
Better Circulation: Besides the positive effects of yoga for skin care, the improved circulation of Shirshasana exercise the heart and encourage venous return. Because the heart constantly has to pump blood upward to the brain, the Shirshasana gives the heart a rest and reduces heart strain.
Increased Brain Function: Shirshasana soaks the brain cells with fresh blood, oxygen and nutrients. This increases your thinking power, clarity, memory, concentration, and the sensory faculties. Brain tissues do not degenerate with regular practice.
Balanced Nervous System: Research has shown that an ischemic stroke never results for those who consistently do Shirshasana! (If nothing else, that will get me on my head)
It can also prevent the occurrence of atherosclerotic, Parkinson’s disease, and other diseases of the nervous system. Senile changes in brain are prevented. It calms the brain and helps relieving stress and a depression. It is a centering, calming and soothing pose.
A Healthy Lymphatic System: Shirshasana encourages the drainage of lymphatic fluid so the whole body is regularly detoxified.
Respiratory System: Shirshasana in yoga encourages deep breathing and creates healthier lung tissue.
Digestive System: Standing on our head tones and cleans digestive organs. It cleanses congested blood and toxins from them. Fresh warm blood vigorates the cells and can help people overcome problems of the liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines and reproductive system.
Musculo skeletal system: Shirshasana strengthens the spine, neck, shoulders and arms. The muscular system of the abdomen and the legs are toned.
Technique: You must use extra padding for the Shirshasana, so use a folded blanket or some extra foam on top of your yoga mat. Don’t use a pillow, since it’s too soft.
If you don’t feel very confident about going straight into the Shirshasana, try stage 1 first. Once you are confident with stage 1, you can go on to stage 2, which is the standard Shirshasana.
If you wish to try it on your own, place a pillow lengthwise behind your head, in case you fall over backwards.
Stage 1 (For Beginners)
1. Put your yoga mat into a corner, kneel down in front of it and place your interlocked fingers in the corner close to the walls.
2. Put your head into the hollow of the palms, rise off the knees and take a step or two towards the comer.
3. Lift one leg and place it in the comer against the wall. If you are little unsure, ask a friend to hold the leg and put it in the corner. Now, just kick the other leg up. Stay there for about 15 seconds, trying to remain relaxed.
4. To come out of the Shirshasana, just lower one leg at a time. Again, if you feel unsure, ask your friend to hold one of your legs while you lower the other.
Start off in the Shirshasana for about 15 seconds. Increase the time by 15 seconds every week until you are doing three minutes.
Stage 2 (The Standard Shirshasana)
1. Kneel down on your yoga mat. Interlock the fingers of your hands and place them and your forearms on the extra padding on the yoga mat. Keep the elbows fairly close together.
2. Place the back of your head into the hollow of the palms (not on the palms or fingers). Rise up off your knees and take a step or two towards your head.
3. Inhale, and slowly raise the legs until they are vertical. Keep your back straight and try to relax. Breathe slowly and deeply from the abdomen.
4. Concentrate on the brain or the pineal gland between the eyebrows.
5. To come down, bend your knees and lower one leg and then the other. As for the beginners’ stage, start off in the Shirshasana for about 15 seconds and increase the time by 15 seconds every week, until you are doing three minutes.
Time: Do the Shirshasana for fifteen seconds at first, adding fifteen more per week. The maximum time for it should not be more than twelve minutes, if it is done in conjunction with other exercises
1. Don’t do the Shirshasana if you have high or low blood pressure. First get your blood pressure normal by natural means such as good nutrition, aerobic exercise and the other asanas. Even just giving up salt and taking garlic daily (tablets or in cooking) will cause a substantial reduction in your blood pressure.
2. Atherosclerosis (blocked blood vessels) and any history of strokes is also a contraindication in doing the Shirshasana. You must improve your circulatory system first, before attempting it.
3. If you have any serious eye diseases, ask your eye specialist’s advice about doing the Shirshasana.
4. Avoid this exercise if you are suffering from constipation, when the stool is excessively dry, if you have pus in your ears, if you are suffering from chronic nasal catarrh, or from very weak eye capillaries. Avoid this exercise if you have an organically defective pituitary, pineal or thyroid gland.
5. If you suffer from a neck injury or advanced arthritis in your neck, again you must improve your neck condition first. See your physician, follow the nutritional principles in this book and do the other asanas to improve your neck.
Don’t let any minor neck pain stop you from doing the Shirshasana, since most of the weight of the body is actually supported by the forearms. There is very little pressure on the head and therefore very minimal compression of the neck.