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Head Stand (Sirsasana): Benefits, steps & variations  

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The Sanskrit name of Head stand is Sirsasana. ‘Sirs’ in the Sanskrit language means the ‘head’ and ‘asana’ means the ‘pose’ or ‘posture’. In the English language, this pose is popularly known as the ‘Head stand pose’. This is also the basic Yoga pose of ‘Hatha Yoga’.

This pose also has many variations, those also need to be learned to obtain the full benefits of this pose. The mastery of this pose gives the practitioner a complete balance in his life physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Understanding Head Stand (Sirsasana)

In ancient Yogic literature, the Sirsasana is described as the king of all asanas and the reason is also not difficult to find. When a child is born his head comes out first and after that the limbs.

Our head contains the brain which controls the whole body, nervous system, and sense organs. Just as the king or the constitutional head of a country is important for any country to run it efficiently so is the importance of our brain to do all functions of the body.

In the ancient Yogic texts, the brain is described as the seat of knowledge, discrimination, wisdom, intelligence, and power. It is also known as the place of Brahman and the soul.

Just as no country can progress without the able leader or the head of the state, to guide it, similarly no human being can prosper without a healthy brain.

Name & basic details:

Sanskrit NameSirsasana
English NameHeadstand pose
Other nameSalamba Sirsasana
Difficulty LevelAdvanced
PositionUpside down on the head
(Head Stand)

The Guna of the Head Stand

According to Bhagavad Gita ‘Satva’ harmony, ‘Rajas’ mobility, and ‘tamas’ inertia these three Gunas (qualities) of the human mind are described, which originate from the brain. It happens in the life of every person that sometimes one quality dominates and sometimes the other.

The ‘Satva’ that means ‘harmony’ is the quality of the brain so the regular practitioner of this asana can gather more of Satva qualities in his life, which helps him to harmonize his life energies.

The regular practice of this asana rejuvenates the brain cells when fresh blood flows through them. As a result thinking power of the practitioner increases and his thoughts become clear.

Those people, who get tired very quickly when they do any brain-related activity, can benefit immensely when they regularly practice this asana.


This asana makes the fresh blood pass through the pituitary and pineal glands, which are very important glands for the growth of human health and vitality.

In the recent scientific research on Headstand it was found the decrease in the blood flow and heart rate, and increase in the skin conductance levels, during the pose. This research was on both Headstand with wall support and without support.

People having problem of loss of memory and sleeplessness also benefits when they correctly practice this asana. Those who feel less energized in their lives become the powerhouse of energy.

This asana also works on lungs and they gain strength to withstand any climate change and relieve the practitioner from cold and cough-related ailments.

This asana is having a warm effect on the body; it balances the fire element of the body and thus immensely benefits those suffering from constipation. It also increases the hemoglobin value of the blood.  

Headstand Sirsasana Image

Headstand Benefits:

This asana benefits the body in a numerous ways, a few of them are listed below:

  1. It makes the fresh blood flows towards the head in an inverted position that provides better blood circulation to the brain and eyes. It makes the brain sharp and improves the vision of the eyes even during old age.
  2. Regular practice of this asana strengthens the stomach muscles and also massages the stomach organs. It improves digestion power and appetite; all problems related to constipation are removed.
  3. This asana increases the strength and stability of both mind and body.
  4. This asana helps to flow fresh blood into the brain thereby making it calm and stable, it also helps in relieving mild depression and stress.
  5. This yoga pose puts pressure on the pituitary glands thereby increasing its efficiency. Proper functioning of the Pituitary gland also increases the efficiency of all other hormone-producing glands controlled by it.
  6. Daily practice of this yoga pose activates the Kidneys and liver. This asana also stimulates the nervous system and strengthens the spine, buttocks, and neck as well.
  7. This yoga pose puts pressure on the abdomen on the diaphragm which ensures deeper breathing that helps in the removal of carbon dioxide and other toxins from the lungs.
  8. This asana makes arms, shoulders, thighs, knees, and ankles strong and keeps them well stimulated.
  9. This asana is particularly helpful in removing all diseases from the body especially helpful for menstrual disorders, constipation, low energy, back pain, depression, etc.
  10. Practicing this asana regularly makes feet, legs, shoulder, abdominal and back muscles stronger, flexible, and makes their function properly.
  11. This yoga pose removes the problem of loss of memory and sleeplessness. It also works on the lungs by giving them strength to withstand any climate change and relieve the practitioner from cold and cough-related ailments.
  12. This asana helps in the realignment of the vertebral column of the spine which helps in correcting any minor defects in the body posture and thus helps to improve body posture.
  13. It helps to fight obesity by reducing body fat in the body.
  14. This pose coupled with Sarvangasana and its variations help in emptying the bowels very easily in the morning time. It also prepares the body for other yoga poses.
  15. This asana purifies the blood and also increases the hemoglobin value of the blood.
  16. It is also very helpful in cases of hair fall, baldness, and early graying of the hair

Headstand Benefits in following ailments:

  • Eyesight
  • Constipation
  • Cough and cold
  • Diabetes
  • Menopausal imbalances.
  • Headaches
  • Asthma
  • Disorders of the nervous systems
  • Issues of the reproductive system
  • Glandular disorders.
  • Anxiety
  • Migraine
  • stress management
  • Anger management
  • Baldness
  • Graying of hair
Headstand Image

How to do a Headstand:

Follow these steps carefully and make sure to practice this pose with a correct method.

  1. Spread the yoga mat on the floor and then spread a fourfold blanket on it. Make sure that the surface where you are going to perform this pose should not be too soft or too hard. Now kneel near it.
  2. Now rest the forearms in the center of the blanket. Make sure that the distance between the elbows on the floor is neither wider nor lesser than the Shoulders.
  3. Interlock the fingers of both hands right up to the fingertips so that the palms form a shape of a cup. Place the sides of the palms on the little fingers on the blanket.
  4. When you will go up on your head balancing your body, the fingers should be kept tightly locked with each other. If fingers are left lose the weight of the body will fall on them and the arms will start paining, so always remember to keep fingers perfectly locked well.
  5. Now put your crown of the head on the blanket so that the back of the head touches the cupped palm. Don’t rest the forehead or the back of the head but only the crown of the head on the blanket.
  6. After locking the head position on the blanket raise the knees from the floor by moving the toes closer towards the head.
  7. Now take a gentle swing from the floor and lift both the legs off the ground keeping your knees bent. The swing should be taken in such a way that both feet leave the floor at the same time and together.
  8. Once this position is secured keep your body balanced so that it doesn’t swing in one or the other direction.
  9. Now stretch your legs fully in the upward direction and stand on the head keeping the whole body vertical to the floor
  10. Now you can stay in this position as per your experience and capacity from 1 to 5 minutes. When you have to come down flex your knees and slide down to the floor in the reverse order. 

Headstand for beginners:

Beginners can start practice on forearms in a following way:

  1. A beginner while attempting to do this pose can take the assistance of another person and if he is not too confident of doing it then he can also take the support of the wall. While practicing against the wall the distance between the wall and the head should not be more than 2-3 inches.
  2. If the distance is more than 2-3 inches then the spine will curve and the stomach will stick out. This will be the wrong posture; in this, the weight of the body will be felt on the elbows and not on the crown. While doing this asana incorrectly the position of the head may also change.
  3. This may strain your eyes and results in a flushed face. Therefore it is, advisable for all beginners to start the practice of this pose in a corner of the room where two walls meet. In the corner also the head is placed 2 to 3 inches away from the walls.
  4. When doing this pose in a corner, the beginner should breathe out and swing his legs up. He should support his hips against the side of the wall and move the feet up. In a corner, he can touch the heels on either of the walls.
  5. He should then stretch his body straight up and slowly leave the support of the wall and learn to balance his body.
  6. While coming down he can place his feet and hips against either side of the wall and slide down on the floor. The action of going up and coming down should be done with breathing out.
  7. The benefit for the beginner of balancing in a corner is that his head and legs will be in the right angle formed by the walls. The beginner will be sure of his right position, this he will not be able to know if he balances against the straight wall.
  8. Till the beginner learn the correct method he is likely to sway or tilt his body towards one or the other side. When his body swings towards the stronger side his legs will rest on the walls without the person even knowing that his body is swinging on one side.
  9. It is very important to correct the position at this time otherwise person is likely to cause harm to his body. Tilt or sway in one side can become a bad habit in a long time without the person realizing it, which will be very difficult to correct at a later stage.
  10. Apart from this, the wrong posture may also lead to pains in the head, neck, shoulders, and back. If the person performs asana with the help of two walls of a corner it will help the beginner to keep the asana symmetrically correct.
  11. Once the balance is achieved one should learn to come down on the floor with legs straight that means without bending the knees with backward action of the hips.
  12. In the beginning, it is difficult to go up and come down without bending the legs, but it is always advisable to learn the correct method of doing asana.
  13. As the beginner gains confidence in the pose, he will find it more beneficial to go up and down with his legs together and straight without jerks.
  14. It is an advanced asana and it takes time for the beginner to become oriented to his surroundings when he is trying to balance his whole weight on his head. He will find that everything has become completely unfamiliar to follow directions and instructions will also appear confusing.
  15. He will find it difficult to think clearly or to act logically. This is because the fear to topple down and the best way to overcome fear is to face with calmness the situation of which one is afraid.
  16. When the person gets familiar with the correct perspective then he will not be frightened anymore. The fact is to topple over when learning the this pose, is not that much terrible as it looks or one imagines it to be.
  17. If the beginner is finding it difficult to balance his body once he goes up, in that case, he should loosen his interlock fingers and he can easily come down on the floor without much strain. If he does not loosen his interlocked fingers then he is likely to hit the ground with a harder jerk, which will be painful.
  18. After the beginner has learned to balance himself against the wall or in a corner, one should try to do this pose in the middle of the room. There are chances of few falls and one must learn the art of failing as indicated above.
  19. When a beginner learns the art of doing this pose in the middle of a room, he will get the great confidence to do Headstand variations as well.

How to do a Headstand safely: 

The practitioner must learn the correct method of doing this pose to acquire maximum benefits from it. A practitioner must ensure that he is following below mentioned steps after he has learned to balance his body in this pose. 

  1. After locking the head position as described above (How to do headstand ) stretch the legs straight by raising the knees from the floor. Bring the toes closer to the head and try to press the heel to the floor while keeping your back erect.
  2. Now stretch the dorsal or the middle region of the spine and stay in this position for about 30 seconds while breathing normally.
  3. Breathe out and raise the heels and take the toes off the ground with the backward movement of the hips. Now simultaneously raise both legs while keeping them straight.
  4. Now breathe in and again breathe out along with that move the legs up until they are parallel to the floor.


How much time for the pose

Once the beginner has learned the art of balancing his body in this pose he should try to do it for at least 5 minutes. As one grows in experience one can further increase the time duration of this pose up to 30 minutes.

The advanced learner of this pose can also perform a variety of variations. Once the person starts learning Headstand variations then he can perform each variation for 1 minute time as per his capacity.

Headstand Contraindications:

  1. This pose needs to be avoided if there is any injury in the body.
  2. A person suffering from high or low blood pressure must avoid this pose particularly when blood pressure is not normal.
  3. Those suffering from any heart disease should avoid this pose.
  4. Women when they are pregnant and during the time of menstruating should avoid this pose.
  5. People having excess weight should also avoid this pose if they are new to yoga asanas.
  6. It is an advanced-level yoga pose, so it is always advisable to start the practice of this asana under the supervision of an experienced instructor.
  7. Those people having weak blood vessels in the eyes also need to avoid this pose. If the eyes become bloodshot during the asana practitioner should immediately stop asana.
  8. In case of any injury on the feet or legs, even the regular practitioner of this pose should avoid this asana till they recover fully from the injury.
  9. During this pose blood from the feet area rushes towards the head, so in case of reduction of blood flow in that part can delay the recovery of the injury. 

Headstand On Forearms tips:

These are a few useful tips to be kept in mind while doing this pose:

  1. Always make sure that there is enough free space around wherever you choose to do this pose. There should not be any furniture or sharp objects around so that in case of any fall person does not fell on the object that can cause any bodily injury.
  2. Always do this pose empty stomach or at least 4 hours after meals. Always prefer to do this pose in the morning time.
  3. This pose should not be performed immediately after having liquids either in shape in juices, soups, or plain water, etc. Give it at least 30 minutes for the body to digest it in the body.
  4. When practicing this pose in the morning at that time the body is very stiff, make sure to do some warm-up and movement of the body so that the body loosens up to prepare itself for the Asana.
  5. It is always advisable to do this pose in the beginning of your Yoga session because when the body is too exhausted after the practice of other asana or exercises, it will be difficult to maintain the body balance in the pose.
  6. Always do Sarvangasana and its variations along with this pose, because it is observed that if people only do Headstand then over time they easily become irritable and angry.
  7. So it is advisable for the practitioners to also do Sarvangasana and its variations along with Sirsasana to remain balanced. 

Conclusion for Head stand (Sirsasana): 

Head stand (Sirsasana) is considered as the ‘father’ of all asana by the Yogis. This asana if practiced regularly brings immense benefit to the practitioner in many different ways.

The regular practice of this asana alone has the potential to significantly change the entire life of the person in a very positive manner.

This asana is helpful in almost all diseases where a person seeks the help of Yoga asana to improve his physical or physiological condition.

FAQ: Head stand

Q1. Are headstands bad for your neck?

Ans: If you are otherwise healthy and already not suffering from any neck injury or any other issue with your neck then performing a this pose will never be bad for your neck.

You also have to take care that you are performing the pose correctly and you also take care of all the precautions that are needed to perform this Pose.

Q2. Can anyone do a headstand?

Ans: Headstand is an advanced Yoga pose so you have to have the required experience and familiarity with this pose.

You also need to have enough strength in the body to perform this Yoga pose.

Read this article carefully to make yourself aware of all the different aspects that are needed to perform this pose.

After taking all the contraindications and precautions in mind there should be no problem for anybody to learn and practice this pose.

Although it is always advisable that you should perform this pose under the guidance of an expert Yoga teacher.    

Q3. What is headstand good for?

Ans: Headstand is considered the Father of all asanas in the Yoga texts because of the immense benefits that this pose brings to the life of the practitioner.

Some of the benefits of doing this pose are given above in this article.

Headstand and its cycles along with Shoulderstand and its cycles are recommended for the majority of deceases and ailments of the body in the Yoga texts.

Q4. How long to perform headstand? 

Ans: Once you have learned to do a basic pose correctly you must perform this pose for about a minimum of 5 minutes and 1 minute each for the cycles.

When you are able to do this pose comfortably you can increase the time duration to even 30 minutes. 

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Do share your experience with this pose and if you have any questions or comments you can ask in the comments section below.

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