“Yoga asanas are a posture in which a practitioner sits. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defines “asana” as “to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed”. Patanjali mentions the ability to sit for extended periods as one of the eight limbs of his system, known as ashtanga yoga.”
There are 12 Yoga Asanas, or poses, that are practiced and each one is shown to help alleviate certain ailments, such as stress, back pain, depression, core strength disfunction and digestion (to name a few). In this, the first of 12 articles, we visit the headstand or Sirshasana…
Yoga Asanas 1 – The Headstand (Sirshasana)
Perhaps the most widely practiced of all Yoga poses – the headstand sounds basic enough, but there are several variations and adaptations that can be performed to focus on certain muscle groups and to build your core. A solid, stable headstand has been known as the “King of Asanas” because of its many benefits, the Headstand is the first of the 12 asanas and is considered by many to be a treatment for many ailments:
- Enables you to slow down, breath and focus on the present.
- Boost autonomic nervous function – for a stronger heart
- Reversing gravity can take a load off of your heart and circulatory system
- Improved upper and mid body strength
- Improved core stability
This pose is not an advanced asana; but it does require a level of core strength and control, and like a lot of Yoga poses can cause damage if you rush into it. To begin with, try the Child’s Pose or the Dolphin and gradually progress to a full headstand.
Remember – before you start doing headstands, you must have strong arms, shoulders and back muscles to lift your head off the floor, you must be careful not put your full bodyweight onto your head as you can risk damaging your neck and back.
The 12 Yoga Asanas are listed below, and we will be writing a separate article on each one over the coming weeks.
- Headstand (Sirshasana)
- Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana)
- Plough (Halasana)
- Fish (Matsyasana)
- Sitting Forward bend (Paschimothanasana)
- Cobra (Bhujangasana)
- Locust (Shalabhasana)
- Bow (Dhanurasana)
- Spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
- Crow (Kakasana) or Peacock (Mayurasana)
- Standing forward bend (Pada Hasthasana)
- Triangle (Trikonasana)
For more information on the health benefits of being upside down, I totally recommend you read “Gravity and Yoga: The benefits of being upside down” here
. Beautiful photo is by Thao Le Hoang