Headstand

I started practicing Yoga at 11, so doing a Headstand was something I never thought about .. I just did it.

In my 20s, after my grandmother had a quadruple heartpass surgery, at her request, I taught her Yoga.  She loved headstands.  She told me once that she really enjoy Sun Salutations and Headstands.   She would use her kitchen timer to keep track of both.  She lived to see 100.

 

Even so, Headstands should never be approached lightly.  Honestly, Ive met more than my fairshare of Yoga teachers who dont teach it because they simply dont know how.  This is why its best to learn from someone who does them routinely .. like from myself!

 

The key to Headstand is anatomy and physiology.  Again, most Yoga teachers I know dont teach it because they have either never been taught to do it correctly (so it hurts), or they have tried independent of a qualified teacher, and hurt their self.

For example, a safe – and true – Headstand begins on the CROWN, which is the highest point of the cranium.  Next, there are STAGES that MUST be employed.  The majority of Headstands I see .. no one gets the head position right, and no one employs any stages.

Now, back to anatomy and physiology.  The commonly held view .. that the vertebral bodies and intervertebral disks support the body .. is inaccurate.  More accurately, it is the ENTIRE vertebral, intervertebral, vertebral arches, joints, muscles and connective tissue that is responsible for bearing the bodies weight – so that the comparatively small size of the cervical vertebral is not as critical as previously (or commonly) thought.

The second sort of Headstand is the BREGMA, which is located approximately 1″ in front of the Crown.  The two are similar yet different.  For example, the Crown is the traditional Yoga position, whereas the bregma is almost a different pose altogether.   From an energy/Pranic perspective – which all true Yoga incorporates, versus just doing the physical movement alone – the Bregma is a more dynamic (perhaps even ‘flashy’, show-off, sort of lift.

Back to energy/Prana, the Bregma also has a more dynamic effect on our consciousness (compared to the Crown lift).  Now, this doesnt necessarily equate to ‘better’.  For example, the Bregma lift is more akin to an inverted backbend (as seen in Scorpion, for example), whereas the Crown lift is what brings the calm serenity so often mentioned in the ancient Yoga texts.  Both are accurate but have different Pranic ramifications.

Prem and Metta!

Yogini Devi

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Yogi Douga
    May 11, 2013 @ 23:00:20

    Hi Yogini Devi, I have been looking online for information on the safety of headstands. I have done them since childhood, but am only beginning to include them in my yoga practice, so I am trying to make sure I am well informed, to balance my daredevil tendencies. Your anatomy and physiology comments are helpful.
    The question of the relative delicacy of the cervical vert. is of interest to me, but I assume (reasonably, I hope!) that the generations of skilled and studious yogis who have practiced headstand take that into account. Generally speaking it seems to me that yoga is all about going further than our “normal” range of motions, in order to take us further on the path of well-being, or at least reverse some to the harm we suffer from slave-driving our bodies. So the fact of pouring our body weight into our neck in headstand seems consistent with this practice of “going beyond”. Though as you say, it requires a level of preparation that is going to bring unique physiological benefits, rather than injury.
    The practice of tripod headstand (sirsasana 2) seems to indicate that there is even more to be reaped from headstand by eliminating the assistive role of the forearms, which can take some of the weight in sirsasana 1. What I understand to be a particular physiological benefit of s2 would be to go further in flushing out the tissues and blood vessels of the cervical vertebrae. And, then, allow a more complete nourishment of those tissues when the blood comes rushing back in.
    All this said, I am noticing that I do feel some mild soreness the day after practicing headstand–hard to call it soreness really, but it does seem a kind of residue that raises concern. Perhaps this is due to typically practicing on the flatter area in front of the crown (the bregma as you refer to it)?
    Have you experienced discomfort resulting from bregma headstand? I will see how it goes putting my weight on the crown instead.

    Cheers, Yogi Douga

    Reply

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