Salamba Sirsasana II
Sa = With á Alamba = Support á Sirsa = Head á Asana = Pose Tripod Headstand
BENEFITS Strengthens your arms and shoulders; improves digestion; gives you new perspective, and asks you to face your fears
1 Come to Prasarita Padottanasana, and place the top of your head on the mat slightly in front of your hands to form a small triangle with your head as the apex (highest point). You want your weight evenly distributed among each hand and your head. Think of how a tripod, or three-legged stool, balances; you want three strong points of contact on the mat. Make sure you can see your fingertips in your peripheral vision. Bend your elbows, and hug them into your midline (the imaginary line that runs through the center of your body) as if you were practicing Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) arms. Press your hands into the mat, and elongate your fingers. This will help distribute your weight evenly in your hands so you don’t dump into your outer wrists and strain them. Isometrically drag your hands backward, which will help engage your shoulders so that you’re not straining your neck.
2 Lift your shoulders away from the floor, and gently draw them toward the back of your body without pinching or forcing. Move your weight forward to come onto your tiptoes. (If you have tight hamstrings, bend your knees.) Start to engage your core by pulling your feet isometrically toward each other as you shift your weight farther forward. Keep hugging your elbows into your midline.
3 Breathe in and out through your nose, creating the sound of the ocean at the back of your throat (Ujjayi Pranayama). Let your breath be the
soundtrack of the pose. On an inhalation, begin to lift your legs up and out to your sides. As you shift forward and your feet and legs start to lift off the ground, your hips will move forward. Lift your feet higher, and spread and flex your toes. Lift your kneecaps to keep your legs active. You are in Prasarita Padottanasana in midair. Keep your fingers spread wide, and use your fingertips as brakes to keep from tipping over. If at any point you feel strain or pain, come down.
Bear down in your hands and arms. On an inhalation, start to pull your legs up toward each other like two magnets. Keep extending your legs, engaging your core, pressing into your hands, and pulling everything into your midline. Bring your inner heels and big toes together. Point your feet, and then flex your toes. Pull your rib cage toward the back of your body. Keep drawing your elbows into your midline to maintain your balance. Squeeze your inner thighs. Isometrically spin your hands out to help you find better balance. Hold for 5–10 breaths. Listen to the sound of your breath. To come out of the pose, draw your knees into your chest and squeeze them together; then, with a long exhalation, start to lower your feet. Come down as slowly as you can, engaging your core the entire way. Rest in Child’s Pose for another 10 breaths to prevent a head rush after being upside down.