Sirshasana: Turning Upside Down
Headstand (Sirshasana) is often referred to as the king of all yoga poses and has become a regular part of my fitness regimen. There was a time when I wouldn't even attempt a headstand, but after learning the benefits and daily practice, I now do at least 10 minutes, 6 days a week. This posture may seem like just a fun party trick, but it is actually so much more. The health benefits of headstand and its variations are many.
Before you begin flipping yourself upside down, remember that while you are learning head stand it is best to practice with a teacher until you find your bearing. This posture is healing, but only if you are doing it properly and safely. If you have any neck or back issues, you will most likely want to skip this posture until you are recovered. It is also commonly advised not to go upside-down if you are on your moon cycle or pregnant. If you have a healthy neck and back and know this pose, here are my top ten health benefits of Headstand!
1. By reversing the flow of gravity, a headstand simulates a “face lift” by letting your skin hang in the opposite direction. The inverted position of a headstand also flushes fresh nutrients and oxygen to the face, creating a glowing effect on the skin.
2. Headstands increase nutrients and blood flow to the scalp, decreasing onset of grey hair. Some yogis say that it will even convert grey hair back to its natural color!
3. Headstands stimulate and provide refreshed blood to the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. These glands are vital to our wellbeing, and are considered the master glands that regulate all other glands in the body (thyroid, pineal, and adrenals). This includes our sexual hormones, so you can expect better sex with a consistent headstand practice.
4. When the adrenal glands are flushed and detoxified with headstands, we create more positive thoughts. Depression will decrease, as going upside down will almost always put a smile on your face.
5. It's great to bust out a headstand at a party. Your peers will be impressed!
6. Improved circulation occurs with a headstand practice. Because the heart constantly has to pump blood upward to the brain, the headstand gives the heart a rest and reduces unnecessary strain. In addition, while in headstand de-oxygenated blood is able to flow more easily from the extremities to the heart.
7. Any fluid that is retained in the feet is able to drain (edema), therefore reducing the onset and prevalence of varicose veins.
8. Headstands increase digestive fire and increase body heat. The intestines are cleansed by reversing the pull of gravity, while releasing congested blood in the colon.
9. Headstands strengthen deep core muscles. To hold a straight headstand for an extended period of time, the practitioner must engage the obliques, the rectus abdominus and the transverse abdominus. To really engage and strengthen the core, pike the legs by lifting and/or lowering both legs at the same time when coming in and out of the pose.
10. Eliminate your chances of having an ischemic stroke, as scientific evidence shows that this type of stroke rarely occurs in individuals that consistently do headstands!
Although I recommend learning headstand from a qualified teacher, its multifaceted benefits should not be ignored. Headstands should not be performed until you consult your physician or if you have neck injuries, extremely high blood pressure, ear and eye problems, if you are menstruating, or have acid reflux.