B.K.S. Iyengar, the guru of modern-day yoga, called Sirsasana "the king of yoga poses" for good reason. Sirsasana, or Headstand, is considered the foundation of your practice as you cannot practice without a strong leader — your head.
Headstand is said to be a source of vitality, and Iyengar recommended you practice it daily. While it may be an exaggeration to say that Headstand defines your yoga practice, the pose can offer numerous benefits. In addition to helping you feel confident, it boosts your physical health and strength.
By shifting your blood flow to your brain and scalp, Headstand has calming benefits. Flip yourself upside down and you can't help but send your focus to breath and bodily sensations, rather than the bills you have to pay or the chores you have on your to-do list.
The pose also increases circulation to your brain, which helps stimulate mental function and keep you sharp.
Strong Upper Body
Your feet and legs are the foundation for most yoga postures, and daily activities for that matter. Headstand flips you around so your shoulders and arms become predominant. A properly done Headstand puts very little weight on your head, as this can be stressful to the vertebrae of the neck. Rather, your arms and shoulders engage to hold you upside down and as a result, you get a stronger, more supple upper body.
Your ability to balance right side up, or upside down, depends a lot on your core strength. Headstand teaches you to engage your core to support straight balanced legs. Holding the pose for up to 5 minutes, once you've mastered it, is a serious ab and back workout.
Relief for Tired Feet
Turning upside down means accumulated fluid and blood that have rushed to your feet gets to drain. Headstand helps reduce swelling in the ankles, legs and feet, especially if you tend to spend a lot of time standing.
Turning upside down stimulates your adrenal glands, responsible for the regulation of stress hormones. It also activates you pituitary, hypothalamus and pineal glands. Together, these glands are responsible for bodily functions necessary to daily existence, including your body temperature, hunger triggers, growth, sleep, weight regulation and sexual function. By sending blood to the location of these glands, Headstand stimulates the release of hormones to regulate these important functions, improving your overall well-being.
Headstand helps release trapped gasses and unkinks the digestive organs, potentially relieving mild digestive distress. Turning upside down also changes the gravitational flow of the stomach and intestines, which can help dislodge stuck stuff, especially in the colon.
Read More: What are the Benefits of Inversions in Yoga
Free Face Lift
Skin on your face is subject to gravity and, as you age, you may notice the skin becoming more slack. While Headstand can't restore collagen, the protein that keeps your skin springy, it can temporarily alleviate the effects of gravity — contributing to a more youthful look. Plus, Headstand feels playful, so you'll bring out your inner child and exude vitality.
Headstand is an advanced posture, and isn't one you begin with when you start practicing. If you never achieve it, that's OK. You can still benefit from dozens of other postures.
For many people, Headstand is even contraindicated. If you have glaucoma, back and/or neck injuries, high blood pressure or are pregnant, the pose may not be an option. It's best to learn Sirsasana under the guidance of a certified teacher, too. They can help you determine if you're actually ready for the pose in your practice and provide you with important tips to keep your spine and neck safe.