Day 29 Sirsasana
Sirsasana has been called The King of Asanas. It tends to be the first inversion that most students learn as it has one of the most stable foundations for flipping ourselves upside down. This fantastic pose shifts our perspective so we can come out physically and mentally refreshed. There are endless headstand variations, but it is important to understand the classic before you divert to variation.
Remember that balancing on your head doesn't mean you put all of your weight on it— headstand is a full-body posture that requires shoulder, core, and leg strength. Every few breaths remind yourself, "shoulders away from the ears and firm the upper outer arms in." This will keep the weight out of the neck. Draw your front ribs in to engage the core and hug the legs together and reach the energy up to the ceiling. This prevents the "wet noodle" syndrome that makes us fear the spill into backbend.
If your hips are tight, try practicing the pose while seated on a block or bolster. Practicing this pose regularly will help to open your hips further and bring your spine into correct alignment.
Figuring out how to position your hands and arms is one of the most critical parts of performing a Headstand; if your body were a building, your hands and arms would be the base. Start by interlacing all of your fingers and then tuck the bottom pinky finger in toward your palms so it won’t get crushed when you place your hands on the ground. Leave enough space for an imaginary billiard ball to fit between your palms, and place your forearms firmly against the mat so your elbows are positioned shoulder-width apart. Check to make sure the tops of your wrists are stacked directly over the lower wrists. Remember, you don't need to cup or hold your head; this causes us to collapse in the wrists and fall over.
Once you have mastered the foundation for your building, it’s time to find the crown of your head. Take a foam yoga block or lightweight book and balance it on your head while sitting up tall, keeping all four sides of your neck perpendicular to the floor. Take note of the place on your head where your block is balanced: It’s exactly where you’ll place your head on the ground when performing Headstand. This protects the cervical spine. You'll feel constricted in your throat if you roll too far back and experience pain in the back of your neck if you're
too close to your forehead.
Headstand is known as a cooling posture, meaning that it helps you to draw your attention inwards. This posture is extremely helpful if you are having anxiety, stress, fear or otherwise worrisome thoughts. Combine headstand with long, slow breathing and you have a recipe for stress relief.
When you turn upside down, you are increasing the blood flow to your brain. This can help to improve mental function, and increase you sense of focus.Along with helping to reduce fear and worry, this posture will improve your ability to keep your mind sharp and clear.
When you flip over, you will be sending extra oxygen and nutrient rich blood to the head, and that means more will be getting to your eyes. This can help to prevent macular degeneration and other eye issues.
Headstand is an awesome posture if you want to optimize the nutrient flow to your head and scalp. You can help your body deliver extra nutrients and oxygen to your scalp, thereby improving nutrient delivery to your hair follicles by turning upside down. You never know, perhaps a consistent headstand practice will help you grow a more luscious head of hair!
While you are holding yourself up in headstand, you should be pushing down into the ground with your forearms, utilizing the strength of your arms, shoulders and back to keep the pressure off of your head and neck. This is an awesome posture for improving upper body strength and muscular endurance.
When you allow the effects of gravity to be reversed on your digestive organs, you will help to move stuck material, release trapped gases, as well as improve blood flow to the all important digestive organs -- increasing nutrient absorption and delivery to your cells. Again, if you combine headstand with focused belly breathing you will have a double whammy effect.
Going upside-down will squeeze your little adrenal glands, which are responsible for the production of those so-called stress hormones. The cleaner your adrenal glands are, the more optimal they will function. This will help you to adapt to stress better!
Edema in the legs is no fun, and it can happen if you tend to spend long hours on your feet. Reversing the effects of gravity on your bodily fluids will help to flush out built up water in the legs, relieving the uncomfortable feeling of edema.
Headstand is a major core workout. You will rely on your core strength to hold your legs up and keep your balance throughout the pose. Having a strong core makes you more durable and less prone to injury in yoga, and in life overall.
Your lymph system can also be called your garbage dump system. This network of nodes and fluids help to remove waste products from your blood. When you flip onto your head you will be directly stimulating your lymphatic system and thereby helping to remove toxins from your body.