In Sanskrit the word eka means ‘one’, ‘single’; pada means ‘foot’ and sira means ‘head’. The name of this asana can be translated as ‘the single foot head pose’. It is so called because one foot is placed behind the head in the final position.
This asana is also called eka pada sirshasana where the word sirsha means the same as sira, that is head.
It may not seem like a forward bending asana from the point of view of the final body position. However, instead of bending the trunk forward onto one leg, the one leg is pulled backwards behind the trunk; this reallv amounts to the same thing. Because the benefits of this asana are essentially the same as many other forward bending asanas, we have classified it accordingly.
Do not force any stage, particularly the last.
Stage 1: starting position
Sit on the floor with the two legs straight in front of the body.
Bend the left leg slightly.
Hold the left foot with the right hand, the fingers placed in the region of the ankle, the palm in contact with the outside of the foot.
Wrap the fingers of the left hand around the left leg slightly above the ankle; the left arm should be positioned so that the elbow lies between the thigh and the lower leg.
This is the starting position.
Stage 2: raising the leg
Raise the left leg using the two arms and hands.
As you raise the leg bend the trunk forwards and twist slightly to the right.
Try to place the left leg on top of the left shoulder.
Do not strain.
Proceed to stage 3 if you can place your leg on your shoulder.
Stage 3: attaining the final pose
Release the grip of the left hand.
Place the left arm under the left thigh so that the hand points towards the buttocks.
Raise the left leg higher by using the right arm and by pushing the left thigh to the back with the left arm.
Do not strain.
Try to place the left foot behind the head at the nape of the neck.
This should be achieved by bending the head forwards under the calf muscle which then rests on the shoulder.
If you are feeling comfortable, place your hands together in front of the chest.
Try to straighten the spine and hold the head upright.
This is the final pose.
Breathe slowly and deeply.
Close the eyes.
Stay in the final pose for as long as is comfortable.
Then slowly release the left leg and return to the starting position.
Repeat the same procedure with the right leg.
Breathing and awareness
Normal breathing while moving the body into the final pose. Breathe deeply and slowly in the final pose. Be aware of breathing in the final pose.
Restrictions, duration, time of practice and counterpose
These details are as for koormasana.
Eka pada sirasana compresses each side of the abdomen in turn. This gives the internal organs a thorough massage and is very useful for removing constipation and stimulating peristalsis. For fullest benefits you should raise the right leg first so that the massage is applied in the same order as the movement of faeces.
Practice of this asana applies a powerful massage to the sexual organs, helping to improve their efficiency and remove malfunctions.
When done regularly, eka pada sirasana has been found useful in improving the blood circulation in the legs and relieving varicose veins.