The word niralamba means ‘without support’ or unsupported’. In English this asana can be translated as ‘the unsupported headstand pose’. It is so called because the arms provide very little support to the inverted body in the final pose.
Place a folded blanket on the floor.
Kneel on the ground.
Place the head on the top of the blanket, adjusting it so that the contact point is the mid-point between the forehead and crown of the head.
Stretch the arms backwards so that they are straight and in line with each side of the body.
The palms should face upwards with the back of the hands resting on the ground.
The distance between the two hands should be about the same as between the two shoulders.
Straighten the legs, allowing the weight of the body to be supported by the hands, feet and head.
Progressively move the two feet towards the face, keeping the legs straight, until the trunk is vertical.
Steady the body and prepare to raise the legs.
Apply pressure between the back of the hands and the floor and slowly raise the legs, keeping them straight.
Ensure that you maintain balance.
Slowly and without jerking, raise the legs to the vertical position.
In the final pose the whole body should be in one straight vertical line.
Be careful not to overbalance.
Maintain equilibrium by pressing the hands against the floor as required.
Let all the weight of the body be sustained by the top of the head.
Stay in the final pose for a comfortable period of time.
Then slowly and carefully lower the legs to the ground.
Remain with the head down in the kneeling pose for about 30 seconds.
Then do tadasana, the counterpose.
This is the end of the practice.
Retain the breath while raising and lowering the legs. Breathe normally in the final pose.
Other practical details
For other details on practice refer to ‘General Details’ later.
Comparison with basic sirshasana
Niralamba sirshasana is more difficult than sirshasana; therefore it should not be practised until sirshasana has been fully mastered. It requires a much greater sense of balance than sirshasana. The final pose is very unstable compared to sirshasana, and therefore it is not very suitable for spending long periods in the inverted position.
Practise basic sirshasana to obtain the benefits of inverting the body, and practise niralamba sirshasana to develop the sense of balance.