Biomechanics of Headstand Pose (Salamba Sirsasana)

12 Dec

headstand pose

Drishti

Nasikagra Mudra (nose tip gazing) forward

Bandhas

The activation of Maha Bandha the combination of Mula, Uddiyana and Jalandhara Bandhas is essential to create the strength, support and stability needed to practice Salamba Sirsasana safely Jalandharabandha lengthens and protects the cervical spine, Uddiyanabandha supports and stabilizes the thoracic spine especially at T 11 &12 and Mulabandha supports and stabilizes the lumbar spine especially at S1L5.

Biomechanics

The forearms and the head create a small triangular foundation that needs strength and stability to support the leverage and load of the inverted body and the leverage of the legs as they are raised. Pressing the forearms into the floor as if trying to straighten the arms creates a downward force into the floor that supports and balances the weight of the inverted body above so it cannot sink into the head and create stress in the neck.

The cervical vertebrae and disks that separate them are one third the size of the lumbar spine which is designed to support the upper torso, head and arms and in this inverted asana the cervical vertebrae and disks cannot safely support the weight of the upper torso, pelvis, legs and feet. The torso is brought into a vertically aligned position above the head with Mulabandha and Uddiyanabandhas activated to create an inner core to support and stabilize the lumbar and thoracic spine in a neutral position. This inner core of bandhas is wrapped in a contracting, activated muscular supporting structure that is strong and stable enough to lift the leverage and load of the legs into a vertical alignment above the torso.

The obliques, transverse and rectus abdominals are wrapped around the inner core created by Mulabandha and the activation of the pelvic floor diaphragm to create a strong stable muscular girdle around the pelvis. The outer muscles of the ribcage the intercostals, serratus anterior, pectoralis, rhomboids major and minor, latissimus dorsi and trapezius are wrapped around the inner core created by Uddiyanabandha and the activation of the chest diaphragm to create a strong stable muscular girdle around the ribcage. The combination of these two strong stable muscular girdles placed one on top of the other creates an inverted vertical torso that is strong enough to lever the load of the legs into a vertical position above the torso and support them there without the body bending or folding. The legs are lifted with the knees bent if the core of the torso needs to be developed or with the legs extended and straight if the core is strong enough to support the leverage and load of the legs straight.

When the body is in a vertical inverted yoga position the forearms are pressed into the floor as if trying to straighten the arms to create a strong lifting foundation that supports the entire weight of the inverted body using the head only for balance and the legs are extended pushing out through the inner heel towards the ceiling until vertical alignment of the body and legs are integrated then the ankles are released and the feet plant-flexed. Salamba Sirsasana is held as long as it is relatively comfortable and the weight of the body is able to be supported by the arms, when the upper arms tire and the weight of the body begins to sink into the head it is time to release this asana so gently, slowly with control lower the legs towards the floor with the legs straight if the core of the body is strong or with the knees bent to shorten the leverage and lessen the load if the core needs more development.

Doshas

Salamba Sirsasana reduces Vatta, Pitta and Kapha Doshas

Chakras

Focus upon Muladhara Chakra the Earth element representing strength, stability, balance and support and Ajna Chakra which represents conscious understanding.

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