Prop Up: Steps to Sirsasana, Safely

In Sanskrit, Sirsasana means the Pose of the Head.

This is a rather traditional version of the Headstand. When I started doing Headstand, I started with Tripod Headstand which can be supported by blocks. Read how to do that here.

This traditional Sirsasana is one of the few Yoga poses that you do it when you are ready to do it. There are ways to support the pose, but to me, the safest way to do Sirsasana and also the best way is to train your shoulder strength, shoulder joint stability and body awareness in Inversion until you have enough.

So instead of introducing how to use props to support Headstand, I would like to introduce THE JOURNEY to Headstand. This journey has several ¨bus stop¨, and each ¨bus stop¨ is an easier version of Headstand and also a step toward the complete Headstand.

Bus Stop number 1: The Rabbit Pose (above)

From Child's Pose (Balasana), interlace fingers to hold your head. Put your forearms on the floor so that the elbows and the hands create a kind-of equilateral triangle (3 equal sides). In Child's Pose, the forehead is resting on the floor. Put the top of your head on the floor, and the back of your head is held by your hands. Lift your belly away from the floor so that your heart is now higher than your head.

Now, you are already in Inversion. This is how I introduce Inversion in Yoga to beginners, and many people would like to stop here with their heads on the floor being upside down. Yoga beginners will start getting used to being inverted, learning how to feel and control their shoulders strength. This is a good start for people who haven't been putting their head on the floor for years (even decades) and there are a lot of them in Yoga classes for beginners.

To get out of Rabbit Pose, sit down into Child's Pose and take a rest with your head resting on your forearms or blocks. So that your head will be as high your heart and you are out of the inversion.

Bus Stop number 2: When you are used to being upside down, and you have gained control and awareness of your shoulders, position of the arms, head, and elbows, you can put more weight on your arms by lifting your knees off the floor and tiptoe, shifting your hips to over your head.

A brother Yoga pose: Dolphin Pose & Forearm Stand

Here in Headstand, I also keep my knees bent and raise my heels high. Bent knees so that your hamstring will not be too tight and pulling your hips back (into posterior pelvic tilt, aka pelvis tilting backward) and therefore easier to put your hips right over your head. And lifting heels to feel less and less weight on your feet and put more and more weight on your shoulders. You can stop here, and test to see if you are putting too much weight on your head by lifting your head off the floor just a few millimeters.

When we are in this Headstand, we almost don't stand on the head. It's the big muscles on your upper back and shoulders that hold you in Headstand.

Bus Stop number 3: Lift 1 leg up.

When you have put your hips right on the top of your shoulders, you will feel your body weight mostly on your shoulders and very little on your legs. Lift one leg up, but don't kick, don't raise it straight to the sky. Bend your knees and press your knees toward your chest as you lift your hips up higher, just like when we do Crow Pose or Tripod Headstand.

Stay here and feel that you only have a tiny little bit of weight on your toes on the floor. The more you can put your body weight on the shoulders, the lighter your foot become, and eventually, you can lift the second leg off the floor too.

Bus Stop number 4: When you can lift both legs from the floor. Don't rush into straightening your legs, bend both knees and keep pressing them toward the chest while still keeping your hips on the top of your shoulders.

Stop here to feel the pose. It's already a Headstand! Test the pose: See if you can lift your head a bit off the floor to make sure your neck is not bearing too much weight.

The Destination: Sirsasana. From bending knees, keep your knees together and lift your knees up while still bending. By doing so, you slowly extend your hips but still keeping knees bent. When you feel like it's the right time, slowly extend your knees too.

When you begin standing on your head, it could happen that your hip is flexed: the pose is not straight, but folded at your hip. That is fine, and actually quite safe for a beginner as you will not tumble if you fall. As you practice Headstand, you can get away from the fear, gain more control and can extend your hips more to become a straight Headstand.


Thank you for reading! More about how to Prop Up Inversions in Yoga:

See how I use basic Yoga props to do ANY Yoga poses in my Prop Up Project:

  1. Grounding Poses in Yoga

  2. Yoga Poses in the Sun Salutations

  3. Basic Standing Poses

  4. Standing Balance Poses

  5. Core Yoga Poses

  6. Backbends in Yoga

  7. Twists in Yoga

  8. Forward Bends in Yoga

  9. Arm Balance in Yoga

  10. Inversion in Yoga

Prop Up Project from Ha My Yoga to help you do more than 80 Yoga poses easier and more effectively with simple Yoga props like block, strap, wall, blanket, bolster, etc. So you can really enjoy doing Yoga!

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