Sirsana, here is a posture like no other. Known Sirsasana is one of the most impressive and difficult yoga postures to practice, but it also reflects a great spiritual meaning.
A/ Origin of the term Sirsasana
A contraction of the Sanskrit terms ” Sirsa “, meaning ” head “, and ” Asana “, which can be translated as ” posture “, Sirsasana can be defined as the posture of the head. Nevertheless, although the position is very old, its denomination is much less so.
Indeed, before being called what we know today, this position was called“Duryodhanasana”, “Kapalikarana” and “Kapali Asana”. It was in the 19th century that its current name was claimed in the Srittvanidhi, a treatise on the iconography of divine figures.
B/ The idea behind this posture on the head
Sirsasana is an inversion posture, which means that during its execution, the pelvis of the person performing it is above his head. Its particularity compared to other postures of this style is that its inversion is total. The two extremities of the body are inverted, the feet are at the level of the head and the head at the level of the feet. Its spiritual significance is twofold.
At first, it represents and initializes a surpassing of its fears. Indeed, the roots of Man, that are his feet, are continuously on the ground but here towards the sky. This loss of reference places the man in an uncomfortable position that he apprehends before launching himself. To leave his comfort zone is essential to the realization of this position.
Also, Sirsasana implies that the heart is, in relation to the ground, above the brain. We can see a strong symbolism, the Man places here his heart above his ego, thus exceeding his human condition pushing him to act according to his reason, and not his emotions.
If Sirsasana is considered the king of yoga postures, it is also for its benefits, considered by many experts as countless. They can be divided into two categories, the physical benefits and the psychological benefits.
A/ The physical benefits of posture
Sirsasana has many benefits for the body, among them:
Better oxygenation of the brain
A considerable contribution in energy
A boost to the thyroid gland, allowing better control of functions such as growth, reproduction, sleep or hunger.
A strengthening of the body, especially the abdominal muscles.
A treatment for headaches
A disengagement of the tissues in the legs, very interesting for people suffering from heavy leg syndrome
A strengthening of the heart
Better breathing, by strengthening the lung capacity
A strengthening of the spine
A reduction in stress
Freedom from constipation, migraine and tension headaches
B/ its psychological benefits
Beyond its benefits for the body, Sirsasana also acts on the mind. Indeed, it allows :
- Get out of your comfort zone by facing your fears
- Improve concentration and memory
- To develop a better understanding of one’s body
- To develop a better coordination between body and mind
- To increase intellectual capacity
A/ A need to train
Poorly executed, Sirsasana can be responsible for serious neck injuries. It is therefore important to train on different points before attempting this position for the first time. To train your back and your abdominal muscles is imperative, as well as a work on your breathing. Also, it is recommended not to choose this posture as your first learning experience, mastering other inverted postures such as Sarvagansana (also known as the “Queen of Asanas”) greatly helps to perform Sirsasana safely. A sufficiently long and complete warm-up (body and breathing exercises) is also essential before each performance.
In addition, performing the first tests against a wall allows you to work on your posture while neglecting your balance.
Nevertheless, with a few exceptions, the posture considered to be the “King of Asanas” is accessible to everyone, as long as the training is done regularly and assiduously and the practitioner has a minimum of experience.
B/ A posture not accessible to all
Although it is much more accessible than one might think at first glance, there are cases in which this posture should absolutely not be performed. These cases are the following:
Dizziness or frequent epilepsy
Pregnant or menstruating woman
High fever or flu
C/ Precautions to be taken to achieve this inversion
In order to perform Sirsasana safely, it is also necessary to take precautions.
Some times are not suitable for the good realization of this position, it is necessary to wait at least 3 hours after a meal and 30 minutes after a violent effort. The environment is also to be taken into account, it is necessary to pay attention that the surrounding furniture does not obstruct a possible fall. Finally, this position requires adequate equipment, it is strongly discouraged to perform it on a mattress (classic as inflated with air) or on a metal bed base.
But what is the appropriate material ? This is the question we will now try to answer.
1/ The YOGA performance mat YOGOM
The most versatile mat from YOGOM, the performance mat is both efficient, ecological and durable! It can be used on all types of floors and with or without basketball. Made of natural rubber and textile microfiber, it has excellent stability on the ground.
Its extra large size (183×68cm) is ideal for all types of sports, whether your yoga postures or muscle strengthening (sheathing, pumps …), very important to achieve Sirsasana! It is not cumbersome though, rollable or foldable and easily transportable thanks to the carrying strap provided.
2/ YOGOM SUPPORT BRICKS
Acting as an extension of your arms or as a support for your body during demanding postures like Sirsasana, having yoga bricks is very useful to practice serenely.
YOGOM offers cork bricks by the unit or in batches of 2 at a discount. It is strongly recommended to buy 2 bricks.
Placing them under the shoulders while doing the posture against a wall makes Sirsasana easier to perform and more accessible.
3/ The support benches for Sirsasana
In order to support the body during the posture, and mainly the cervicals, specialized benches for sirsasana also exist, although not available at YOGOM for the moment.
This bench improves balance during posture but also distributes the weight over a larger surface. It is ideal for the first tests in safety.
Steps to follow:
- Position yourself on all fours, elbows should be under your shoulders and knees under your buttocks
- Cross your fingers, both little fingers must touch the ground
- Place the top of the head on the ground between the hands
- The cervicals must be well aligned
- Push on your elbows as if you wanted to lift your head, the head must remain on the ground
- While pushing, stretch your legs, the toes should be hooked
- Keeping your legs straight, bring your feet towards your elbows in a “walking” motion, then return to the back, repeat 2 times.
- Lift one leg in line with the body, then return it to its original position
- Do the same with the second leg
- Lift one leg again and slowly bring the second leg to the same position
- Maintain the position as such
- After 5 minutes, or sooner if you can’t hold it anymore, bring your legs back to their original point and gently deconstruct the posture.
It is advisable to follow this position with the candle, then shavasana (recovery position on the back) and rest until breathing and heart rate return to normal.
To benefit from the effects of the posture, it is estimated that it should be done 3 times a day for 5 minutes, for a total of 15 minutes. If you can’t hold that much, no problem, the most important thing is togo at your own pace to avoid injury.
Sirsasana, or the head posture, is therefore a very atypical posture. Its appellation of “King of the Asanas” comes from the multiple physical and psychological benefits that it provides (better oxygenation of the brain, improved concentration …) but also its difficulty of execution. Spiritually, this posture involves overcoming one’s fears and putting one’s emotions before one’s reason. Although most people can do it with practice, there are exceptions and there are precautions to take to do it safely. An adapted equipment is also necessary to avoid injuries.
Did this article interest you? Find here a new article on the basic postures !