Sunday, October 31, 2010

Salamba Shirshasana

Sanskrit name: Salamba Shirshasana

Translation: with support head pose

English name: Supported Headstand

Media Illustrations


A professional:

Youtube Videos:

This man is performing Salamba Shirshasana, or Salamba Sirsasana, going to full posture with the legs fully lengthened and aligned above the pelvis.

This video is more of an instructional video displayed through pictures; however, it is a short and clean instruction as to how to perform Salamba Shirshasana.

Critical Elements of the Salamba Shirshasana

Coming into Salamba Shirshasana:

In order to prepare for the asana, make sure you have a folded blanket or padding to support your head and forearms during the pose. Also, if balance is an issue, be sure to set yourself up against a wall in order to focus more on the posture.
When coming into this pose, kneel unto the floor with the mat in front of you. Lace your fingers, placing your forearms onto the mat with your elbows shoulder-width apart. Rolling the arms outward, but with the wrists pressed firmly onto the mat, place the crown of your head unto the mat. Inhale, lifting your shoulder blades and bringing your knees off the floor. Carefully walk your feet closer to your elbows, with your heels elevated. Be sure to actively lift the top thighs, and keep the shoulder blades firm, lifting them towards the tailbone so you're not compressing your neck.
Once you feel you are ready, exhale, bending your knees and lifting them off the floor. Before straightening out your knees, be sure to align your thighs in line with the torso, and underneath the pelvis. Then, when ready, straighten out your legs. Hold this position for about a minute, to begin with.

Coming out of Salamba Shirshasana:

When leaving this pose, slowly exhale, without losing the lift of the shoulder blades, and have both feet touch the floor at the same time. Do not come down heavily as it will put stress on the neck. When in this position, you can start to exit this pose, and rest in Child's Pose for a few moments.

Actions and muscles involved in this Salamba Shirshasana:

Salamba Shirshasana takes a lot of core strength in order to rise to full posture. In this pose, one must be steady with their balance, and not to rush coming into or out of this pose, for it would put stress on the neck. This pose requires a lot of strength in the neck and shoulders, as well as the core and the upper spine. This pose also incorporates asanas like Tadasana, mountain pose, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Downward-Facing Dog, and Urdhva Dandasana, Upward Staff Pose.

Physical and Therapeutic Benefits of Salamba Shirshasana

Salamba Shirshasana is commonly referred to as the "king of poses." This is because, although difficult to practice, there are many benefits that derive from this pose; not only is it good to calm the mind, but the continued practice of this pose also has many health benefits.

For one thing, the practice of this pose increases stamina and strength, as well as promotes good posture. As mentioned previously, it builds strength in the neck and shoulder blades, as well as the abdominals and upper spine.
Headstand also improves concentration and balance, for fresh oxygenated blood flows more freely from the heart to the brain, receiving a greater amount of blood than normal for a fixed period of time.
Headstand also helps cultivate emotional stability; this pose has a calming effect, helping to stabilize moods.
This pose also improves the cardiovascular system. Normally, when we are sitting/standing, our heart must work harder against gravity to pump blood to the upper parts of our bodies. The inversion of this pose reduces strain on the heart; while in headstand, de-oxygenated blood is able to flow more easily.
Not only does Salamba Shirshasana improve the cardiovascular system; it also stimulates the digestive system by cleansing the internal organs through the pull of gravity, the endocrine system's pineal and pituitary glands, and the immune system's circulation and drainage of lymphatic fluid.

Awareness in Salamba Shirshasana

This pose is very difficult to accomplish. While practicing this pose, I definitely feel an uncomfortable pressure on my head and shoulder blades, and slightly dizzy/light-headed from being upside-down. However, after a fixed period of time, it calmed my state of mind, and I felt more awake when exiting this pose. I tend to lose my balance if I try to go to full posture, and have a lot of difficulty with keeping both legs together if trying to lift up.


Both Visual References and Website References:

Behameson, JeMarie. "The Salamba Shirshasana or Headstand Pose | Yoga and Pilates | Fitness and Exercises." Web. 07 Nov. 2010. .
Bradley, Charlotte. "8 Reasons to Practice Headstand (Salamba Shirshasana) | Yoga Flavored Life." Yoga Flavored Life. 15 Apr. 2009. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. .
CorePower Yoga Salamba Sirsasana II (Tripod Headstand Pose). Dir. Core Power Yoga. YouTube. 4 Feb. 2009. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. .
Fitz-Simon, Witold. "Salamba Shirshasana." Yoga (Art + Science). 2010. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. .
John Schumacher Teaches Salamba Sirsasana I. Dir. John Schumacher. Perf. John Schumacher. YouTube. 21 Dec. 2008. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. .
"Supported Headstand." Yoga Journal. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. .