Headstand Half Posture - Ardha Adho Mukha Vrksasana

Ardha Sirsasana (Headstand Half Posture)

(ARE-dah shear-SHAHS-anna)
(ARE-dah)
ardha = half
(shear-SHAHS-anna)
sirsa = head

This yoga pose stimulates the crown chakra and improves concentration and memory. The head and home of the Sahasrara Chakra along with the forearms create the base of this balance. Practice of this yoga posture will also tone the abdominal - core - muscles for a sleek and slender mid-section.

 


 

Benefits


Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression

Energizes the body

Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands

Strengthens the Shoulders, Arms and Thighs

Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause

Relieves menstrual discomfort when done with head supported

Helps prevent osteoporosis

Contraindications/Cautions


Carpal tunnel syndrome

Diarrhea

Pregnancy: Do not do this pose late-term.

High blood pressure or headache: Support your head on a bolster or block, ears level between the arms.

Performing the Asana


From the mat, begin on your hands and knees. Rock your weight forward, bringing your forearms to the mat and hips lifting. Interlock your fingers together and open your palms like a basin. Place them on the ground in front of you. Your weight will rest evenly among your shins and feet and forearms and sides of the hands. As you roll your weight towards the mat, bring the crown of the head into the cup of your fingers and press the shoulder blades down and away from the ears. Continue to lengthen the spine, rounding through the very tip to the tail bone. All of the weight of the upper body will press into your forearms - the palms are just a resting spot for the crown of the head. The back of the head is cradled in the hands.

Do not make any abrupt motions as they will be potentially damaging to the neck.

As you are now crouched, gently curl the toes under (as in Downwards Facing Dog Posture) and press your hips off of the floor, bringing the weight into the pads of your feet. Balance evenly your body weight among the forearms, upwards to the hips, and downwards into the backs of the legs and out through the feet. Gently pull the belly button inwards towards the spine slightly to hold the hips in place.

Continue to lift and elongate towards the sky. Stretch to the toes slowly to find a new balance.

Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. To release, slowly lower the knees to the mat first. Follow by releasing with an exhalation into the Child's Yoga Pose, bringing the hips over the heels and chest towards the mat. Open your palms to the sides of the body and slowly release to a seated yoga posture.

Anatomical Focus


Shoulders

Hips / Thighs

Core

Therapeutic Applications


Digestion

Osteoporosis (preventative)

Headache

Insomnia

Back Pain

Fatigue

High Blood Pressure

Asthma

Flat Feet

Sciatica

Sinusitis

Modify Your Practice


For greater shoulder support, loop and secure a strap around your arms just above your elbows. Imagine that the strap is tightening inward, pressing the outer arms in against the bones. Against this resistance, push the inner shoulder blades outward.

For greater hip support, bend your knees, bringing them to your chest. Continue to elongate through the spine.

Variations


To challenge yourself in this pose, inhale and raise your right leg parallel to the line of your torso, and hold for 30 seconds, keeping the hips level and pressing through the heel. Release with an exhalation and repeat on the left for the same length of time.

Complimentary Yoga Poses


Plank Pose
Uttanasana - Standing Forward Fold Position

Tips for Beginners


If you have difficulty releasing and opening your shoulders in this pose, raise your hands off the floor on a pair of blocks or the seat of a metal folding chair.

Deepen the Pose


Lifting to the toes: To increase the stretch in the backs of your legs, lift slightly up onto the balls of your feet, rising to your toes. Then draw your inner groins deep into the pelvis, lifting actively from the inner heels. Finally, from the height of the groins, lengthen the heels back onto the floor, moving the outer heels faster than the inner.

Partner Practice


Partnering can release pressure from your upper body and arms by using a strap to assist. Have your partner stand behind and loop a strap around your front groins, snuggling the strap into the crease between your top thighs and front pelvis. Your partner can pull on the strap parallel to the line of your spine (remind him/her to extend the arms fully, and keep the knees bent and chest lifted). Release the heads of your thigh bones deeper into your pelvis and lengthen your front torso away from the strap.