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 Asanas - Postures and Physical Culture
 Head Stands- is this really needed?
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67 Posts

Posted - Mar 22 2015 :  3:57:47 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Message
OK Yogis and Yoganis
just how important is it that I develop the ability to stand on my head? can anyone giv me a reason to do this? other than I found it in a great Yoga book?

I am happy to do it provided there is something too it. Please comment.

kumar ul islam

United Kingdom
790 Posts

Posted - Mar 22 2015 :  6:58:28 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
i practice the headstand using a wall for balance the details of why are many and varied for me its part of my preparation, reversing my view, my nervous system i also suffer from a hiatus hernia so other inverted postures are out and to be honest its easy.

Edited by - kumar ul islam on Mar 22 2015 8:11:32 PM
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67 Posts

Posted - Mar 23 2015 :  10:45:14 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hello Kumar
Teaching the nervous system to retrain and look at the world differently, well that is good enough for me to work on inverstions. I will let you all konw how the head stands go.

wishing you all the best
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843 Posts

Posted - Mar 26 2015 :  10:10:53 PM  Show Profile  Visit Radharani's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Inversions are beneficial for a number of reasons. Having said that, no, headstand is NOT "needed"and is actually contraindicated for some people. If you are going to do headstand, it is recommended to be followed by shoulder stand. But keep in mind that contrary to what is portrayed in the west and in most modern "yoga" studios today, yoga is NOT gymnastics. The purpose of asana is to prepare for meditation. I personally enjoy headstand but I only teach it to a few select students, usually the younger and/or physically fit persons.
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90 Posts

Posted - Apr 05 2015 :  11:30:12 AM  Show Profile  Visit Prem's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
You don't have to do full headstand sirsasana to benefit. I teach my students headstand 'preparation' which is very similar to dolphin pose. Or you can try legs up the wall to introduce the pose. Rome wasn't built in a day - so take it slow. Benefits - sirsasana gives the heart a well deserved rest, as gravity helps to return venous blood to heart, helps strengthen respiratory and circulatory systems, slowing down rate of breathing and the heartbeat when at rest, refreshes entire body, brings rich supply of nutrients to brain spine, and nervous system, relieves varicose veins. Reported to be beneficial for memory, concentration and intellectual capacity.It helped my hiatal hernia along with copious amounts of aloe juice. Pranic Benefits - "He who practices the headstand for three hours daily conquers time"- Yoga Tatwa Upanishad. "Sublimates sexual drive by transmuting seminal energy into Ojas-Shakti"- Sivananda Vedic Centre. You should never attempt headstand if you have high blood pressure, are more than four months pregnant, have glaucoma or similar eye issues, have suffered whiplash or similar injury. Headstand is called the 'king' of postures, with shoulderstand 'queen'. Is headstand mandatory - I think not unless your Bhakti is pushing you to master it. We all have poses we are naturally drawn to - I happen to like inversions but another colleague teacher never touches them - she is more of a crow lady As Yogani says, practice wisely, and enjoy the journey.

Edited by - Prem on Apr 06 2015 4:07:19 PM
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158 Posts

Posted - Apr 05 2015 :  1:56:34 PM  Show Profile  Visit technoyogi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Prem,

I went and did sirsasana immediately after reading this post

I really like it yet was curious about it helping your hiatal hernia. T was recently diagnosed with a hiatal hernia also. Yet some of what I read says that doing inversions is counter-indicated for people with hiatal hernia. Which in some ways makes sense because the stomach would be pushing down on the diaphragm from above. I had actually seen exercises where you drop on your heels with a full stomach in order to try to get the stomach to fall back down below the diaphragm.

Anyway, would love to know your thoughts! I really like the pose and would enjoy doing it daily especially if it is good for my hernia! It was just confusing though because half of the articles I read on sirsasana say not to do it if you have a hiatal hernia, the other half say it is good to do....

Edited by - technoyogi on Apr 05 2015 2:43:55 PM
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kumar ul islam

United Kingdom
790 Posts

Posted - Apr 05 2015 :  5:17:17 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
hi there are two types of hiatus rolling and sliding to my knowledge the rolling type move in and out the other is more permanent ,some asanas that push the diaphram up like shoulder stand and the plough really make the sliding more uncomfortable with me it was nuaesia and worse ,the headstand is less pressure and no push but obviosly still a little aggravating for the hiatus i am carefull do not rush and sometimes miss it out completely ,what i feel i do and i am inclined to learn more asanas yet put fewer in any routine but i have the opportunity to add take away and enjoy all i know when i need them .
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90 Posts

Posted - Apr 06 2015 :  4:05:26 PM  Show Profile  Visit Prem's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Technoyogi thanks for the question. I need to clarify my post by saying I actually got my hiatal hernia pretty much under control first by doing exactly what you mentioned, big cup or two of tea and then either bouncing on the rebounder or my heels. I even jumped off my porch a few times - no easy feat for me. And drinking lots of aloe Vera juice . After roughly a month, the hernia was nearly gone and I was able to get into headstand and no more reflux and no problems. This was years ago and it never returned. And shoulder stand and plough do not bother it. So I should not have said "it helped" rather it did not aggravate. Remember your mileage my differ from mine. You'll soon know if it aggravates it. Sorry for the confusion.

Edited by - Prem on Apr 06 2015 4:18:51 PM
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158 Posts

Posted - Apr 07 2015 :  01:55:05 AM  Show Profile  Visit technoyogi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the clarification Prem, and just to know that someone else healed it gives me inspiration that I can do the same!

So I may hold off on the full inversions for now but then make it a goal to heal so that I can do them!

And Kumar, I did not even realize there were different kinds of hiatal hernias! Thanks, will have to see if the doctors know what kind mine is...
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90 Posts

Posted - Apr 07 2015 :  07:39:05 AM  Show Profile  Visit Prem's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Yes thank you Kumar, I had the sliding type from what you describe. Didn't realize there were 2 kinds. Thanks! Yes Technoyogi you'll heal I'm sure. Just takes a little time.
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382 Posts

Posted - May 12 2015 :  5:01:34 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
I'm on the same page as Radharani. Inversions in general are beneficial (e.g. empathy, cleansing, invigorating, body awareness, using gravity to pull Kundalini up the spine to Sahasrara - that's downward in an inversion), but it's key to advance in small steps and to go for the postures and variations that feel good both during and afterward. Easier ones than headstand, or harder, whichever - let your inner guru guide you but be patient and precise on detail.
Typical headstand-contraindications ("don't do its") are a weak neck, post-whiplash (most often, there is an unvoluntarily micromovement in the neck as you enter, which can make things worse), weak upper arms (they should take 80-90 percent of your body weight all the time), unability to bring elbows close enough to each other... No point in forcing it, remember there's a wealth of other inverted postures otherwise.

Some Iyengar-inspired yoga classes practice hanging up and down from the hollows of your knees, which seems OK given a short-enough time and a healthy spine, but risky otherwise, because of a lot of decompression between the vertebrae; it can make some vertebrae (in a not-completely-healthy spine) "land" out of their correct position after. Also, forgetting about time while nicely hanging there has caused a slipped disc in a couple of cases. Some shortcuts are rather the longest way round...

Remember AYP's self pacing, no matter which asana or exercise. No hurry, no excess.

My 2 cents

Edited by - HathaTeacher on May 12 2015 5:04:40 PM
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329 Posts

Posted - Apr 27 2016 :  11:56:12 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi everyone,

Shirasasana helps to direct more blood and therefore nutrition, to the head and brain. The average brain uses up 25% of the calories spent by a person everyday, and since we assume a vertical position 16 hrs. a day,the blood flowing to the brain has to work against gravity.Also, for most people of average good health the pumping capacity of the heart (left ventricular ejection fraction) is not much above 50 or 60%.( the maximum possible in a supremely fit young adult (25 yrs.) is 85% ! In a person with a heart problem, it can come down to as low as 10 or 20 %). Hence it is a good idea to spend a few minutes twice everyday in this asana. However people in whom it is contra-indicated should avoid it and beginners should learn from a qualified teacher and increase duration gradually from, say, 15 secs. at a time to 3 or 5 min. over a few months. Better blood flow to the brain helps avoid problems in later years, like amnesia, Parkinson's, etc.

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4 Posts

Posted - Mar 18 2018 :  4:19:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
I think different styles teach different reason why headstands or certain asanas are important. The way I was taught is that Tadasana (standing upright, aka normally) is the basis for the body or at least the upper body for most asanas. Some teach multiple reasons. This is one thing I was taught about yoga asanas in general:

Standing naturally (Tadasana), there is very little effort needed because those core muscles that keep us upright kind of balance everything so it's effortless. When you "mess up" that natural stance, those muscles suddenly have to work. Vrksasana (tree) is not standing on one leg, it is Tadasana on one leg, standing perfectly straight and natural as if you were using both legs. There are many strengths and advantages of inverted poses, but one of the things in headstands is that those muscles that keep you balanced are suddenly doing all kinds of things they were not doing before. It is inverted Tadasana and the work there is to "stand up" as straight and tall as you can and maintain steadiness.

So what's the point? In the context of old-fashioned asana practice where asanas are just preparation for sitting, all of these "awkward stances" lead to a better balance and strength of the spine which results in the 'stira', the steadiness that is talked about for sitting meditation poses. I was taught that the calming benefits of this increased steadiness apply to everyday life.

Take that all with a grain of salt, but it's worth looking at. Also remember that a lot of times a practice will be discovered to be good, and then an explanation for why it works comes only afterwards. Often the practice is genuinely good but the explanation is a guess that may be way off. I've found it's better to ignore explanations that seem illogical and just work with the practice for a bit and see if it's good.
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4 Posts

Posted - Apr 05 2019 :  05:53:25 AM  Show Profile  Visit Samuel's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Headstand is a great yoga pose for relax the mind and calm the entire body. The regular practice of headstand in daily routine gives various types of health benefits. If you facing the health issues like stress, depression and blood circulation issue, then headstand is great yoga posture for you.
Health benefits of headstand:
It gives strength to arms and shoulders
It is also helpful in improving the blood circulation in body.
Prevent the risk of hair fall
Enhance mental health
Improve vision of eye
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1625 Posts

Posted - Apr 05 2019 :  07:36:59 AM  Show Profile  Visit Charliedog's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Samuel,
It is great that you notice the benefits of sirsasana (headstand), but this is not a yogapose for everyone. The reasons are written clearly in earlier replies above from Radharani and Hatha Teacher. I find it useful to point this out to readers of this forum.

Edited by - Charliedog on Apr 05 2019 07:41:27 AM
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43 Posts

Posted - Nov 16 2022 :  5:37:04 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hello everyone. Hello Kumar. I see that this topic includes some disussion about hiatal hernia and I have some question about it. does anyone has a hiatal hernia together with active kundalini? how does it corelate together - is it a big obstacle for kundalini to flow free through this area? (as hiatal hernia is creating a lot of tension in the chest at the anahata area). can you advie some more ideas how to cope with this? i think it could be difficult o open the chest and relax when there is a hernia? Did you consider surgery, why ? why not? or maye someone can share experiences after surgery ( long term)? I aprreciate all the information.
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