Free Press Journal

Shirshasana — Sovereign among Asanas

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Blurb: Shirshasana enhances the blood supply to the brain and pituitary gland, and in the process revitalises the entire body and mind. Regular practice disgorges perturbation and other psychological intrusions which often become the bedrock of numerous disabilities.

On the 21st of June, Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, for three years in a row now, millions across the globe have assembled in schools, parks, offices, educational and scientific institutions, various establishments. In unison they have performed Yoga.

It is truly a momentous occasion where it seemed that all of humanity had gathered under one roof – the sky – and followed the universal protocol to perform different yogic techniques and to merge with the cosmic splendor through the powerful technique of meditation.


The United Nations has not only endorsed observing International Yoga Day, but given a major thumbs-up to this ancient Indian practice and has taken up popularising it across the universe. Greece to Gujarat, Iceland to Istanbul, spanning all the seven continents, humans performed yoga. Achievement enough for Indians to well up with pride.

A symphony synchronizing the body, mind and soul

As a music lover, one fondly recalls the iconic lyrics of ‘Across the Universe’ by the Beatles.

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup

They slither wildly as they slip away across the Universe

Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind

Possessing and caressing me

Jai Guru Deva, Om

Nothing’s going to change my world

Nothing’s going to change my world

Nothing’s going to change my world

Nothing’s going to change my world

Jai Guru Deva’ implies victory of the big mind. ‘Om’, when fragmented into three syllables – ‘AAA’ (the hubbub that emanates from the abdomen), ‘UUU’ (the reverberation emerging from the chest region) and ‘MMM’ (the resonance materialising from the head region) expatriates all Sisyphean and nugatory   emotions and suffuses the mind with efficacious thoughts.

Physical countenance of yoga

Yoga is a kind of exercise in which a practitioner locomote the human body into several distinct and diverse positions in order to attain physical fitness and flexibility. While performing yogic exercises the Sadhak has to invariably pay attention to the breath. It is always rewarding to take in deep Ujjayi (breath of victory) breaths while performing the asanas. To attain maximal benefits, the practitioner ought to inhale while moving upwards or backwards and exhale in locomotion downwards or stretching forward.

Its metaphysical demeanour

The root of the word Yoga lies in the Sanskrit word – Yuj – authentically meaning to conjoin. It is not merely a set of somatic exercises but a union with the Divine. While Lord Shiva is believed to be the original progenitor of this ancient science, Maharishi Patanjali revealed to humanity the intricacies of Yogic science through the much vaunted Patanjali Yoga Sutras.

An insight into Shirshasana

The asana basically involves inverting the body, with hands, neck and shoulders bearing the entire weight of the body. The first step is the Vajrasana. Through a series of fluid steps to be executed in slow, measured pace, the practitioner moves from Vajrasana to the final pose where the legs are held straight up, toes pointing upwards and the arms cradling the head, with the elbows bent at right angles for further support.

As a practitioner holds the pose, it works against the pressure of gravity, assisting in draining impure blood from the lower limbs and also enhancing blood flow to the head and neck regions.

Moving out the asana has also to be done at the same measured pace in order to prevent injuries. This involves literally tracing all the steps backwards until one moves into Shishuasana. It is advisable to rest the body in Shavasana following this asana.

Regular practitioners can remain in the position for as long as 30 minutes without any encumbrance, while beginners are advised to start with as little as 3 minutes. My astrophysicist cousin in Canada practices this yoga asana unflinchingly for 3 to 5 minutes. This is preeminent time which is vanilla for general health.

Novitiates are advised to practice Shirshasana at the end of their Yogic asana programme while advanced practitioners can perform it either at the beginning or the end of a Yogic session. As mentioned earlier a brief session of Shirshana should invariably follow a session of Shavasana.

It may be mentioned that the asana is very brawny to awaken the Sahasrara chakra, which is responsible for the lofty position this sovereign among asanas enjoys.

Shirshasana enhances the blood supply to the brain and pituitary gland, and in the process revitalises the entire body and mind. Regular practice disgorges perturbation and other psychological intrusions which often become the bedrock of numerous disabilities.

The asana is therefore, recommended for the prevention of asthma, hay fever, diabetes and menopausal imbalance. It also assists to rectify several forms of nervous and glandular disorders, especially those related to the reproductive system.

A note of caution

Shirshasana is contra-indicated for those individuals suffering with high blood pressure, heart disease, thrombosis, arteriosclerosis, chronic catarrh (excessive build-up of mucus in the nose or throat), chronic constipation, kidney problems, impure blood, severe near-sightedness, weak eye blood vessels, conjunctivitis, and chronic glaucoma, inflammation of the ears, any form of haemorrhage in the head. It should neither be practiced during pregnancy nor during menstruation.

While it is recommended as a preventative measure for headache or migraine, it should not be practiced while suffering from the ailment.

It goes without saying that the tutee should learn the craft under the careful guidance and supervision of a trained Yoga instructor and practice for some time under the grace of a Guru.

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