Technique for the last three stages
The most difficult aspect of mastering sirshasana is raising the body into the final pose. Once this is achieved then staying in the final pose presents little difficulty. If you have perfected the first three stages, then you are ready to master the last three stages.
Stage 4: raising the legs
When you can raise your feet off the ground in stage 3 without losing balance, then you are ready to do stage 4. Slowly raise your legs upwards, taking care to adjust your centre of balance accordingly; that is, the position of the trunk has to be slightly adjusted to counterbalance the weight of the legs. Fold the legs upwards and backwards so that the heels move towards the buttocks. This movement is accomplished by contracting the muscles of the lower back. Take care that you maintain equilibrium and you don’t fall backwards.
Stage 5: elevating the knees
At the end of stage 4 the knees still point downwards. Keeping the heels near the buttocks, slowly raise the knees upwards. In the final position of stage 5 the knees should point directly upwards, with the feet pointing downwards. Make sure that the spine and thighs are in line, straight and vertical. Then proceed on to the final stage.
Stage 6: final pose
Slowly raise the feet so that they point upwards and the legs become straight. The whole body should lie in one straight line. This is the final pose of sirshasana. Make sure that you feel perfect balance; at first you may tend to wobble a little, but with practice you become very stable in the pose, as stable as in the standing position. Relax the whole body as much as possible. Close the eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply. Stay in the final pose for a comfortable length of time. Then return to the starting position on the floor in the reverse order stages 6 to 1.
Points to remember in the technique
- Don’t move the head or arms after stage 1. If you do so you may lose balance. If you feel discomfort then you should return to the starting position, make any adjustments and then again perform the asana.
- If you lose balance make sure that you land on the ground in the way previously described1.
- Keep the whole body vertical in the final pose; don’t incline it backwards, forwards or sideways.
- Try to relax as many muscles as possible in the final position.
- Don’t point the toes upwards in the final pose for this contracts the leg muscles and will impede free drainage of blood from the legs. Relax the feet and legs.
- Try to ensure that most of the weight of the body is supported on the head in the final position and not the arms. The arms should be used mainly to maintain equilibrium. At first you may be inclined to use the arms to provide much of the support for the body; there is nothing wrong with this, but over a period of time try to gradually let the head take the main supportive role.