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In Shirshasana (sher-SHAH-sahn-ah) I find my happy place, but when I read in Ashtanga Yoga Master, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois book the, "Yoga Mala" scripture states Shirshasana (headstand) should be held for three hours I thought to myself, "You've got to be kidding me!"
I gave it a try any way as the health benefits of inversions are pretty incredible. Mentally and physically the body heals in headstand. The five sense organs are purified and restored. Memory is increased. Going upside down stimulates the blood flow in the opposite direction sending fresh nutrients and oxygen to the face creating a natural "face lift" bringing a natural glow to the skin. The Adrenal glands are flushed and detoxified creating positive thought and decreases odds of depression. Reversing the pull of gravity cleanses the intestines, colon and the thyroid, pineal and adrenal glands.
Finding happiness in Shirshasana the Ashtanga step by step guide.
Step 1- From Adho Mukha Shvanasana (downward facing dog) lower the knees down to the floor.
Step 2- Interlace the fingers, placing the forearms on the floor elbows at a shoulders width apart. Breathe.
Step 3- Place the top of the head on the floor resting against the palms of the hands.
Step 4- Straighten the legs, keeping them together and raise the hips above the head by pressing the toes and elbows into the floor. Breathe.
Step 5- Inhale engaging the Mula (root) and Uddiyana (abdominal) Bandhas or locks to cultivate the energy and strength to life the legs using the power of the arms and torso.
Step 6- Tighten the body, point the toes, and keep the body erect keeping the weight of the body off the top of the head and into the arms by pressing the forearms into the floor.
Step 7- Breathing here, focus on the Nasa Dristi (nose) and balance for ten deep breaths.
Durining my Ashtanga Yoga 200 hour teacher training with Caroline Klebl a fourth series Ashtangi, and owner of The Source of Yoga Los Angeles, practice made perfect. Shirshasana often time presents more of a mental battle than a physical one. Mental fears of standing on the head, falling over, hurting the neck all come into play big time, so we took this one to the wall. The wall being a yogis best friend when learning new inversions, providing support fot the legs while building mental strength and confidence in new poses. I witnessed people of all shapes, backgrounds, and experience levels of yoga find happiness in Shirshasana.
Three hours still seems like a long ways away for me, the good news is the benefits are reached well before the three hour mark. I plan to start slowly, gradually adding one minute at a time life after all is a marathon and not a sprint.
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