The Yoga Tattwa Upanishad, one of the ancient yoga texts, (200BC – 400 AD) includes two verses on the headstand, saying:
verse 125. On the first day, he should stand on his head with the feet raised up for a moment. He should increase this period gradually every day. Wrinkles and greyness of hair will disappear within three months.
verse 126. He who practises only for a period of a Yama (twenty-four minutes) every day conquers time.
The headstand to conquer time – what a lovely thought! As you may have gathered, this is considered to be a very important posture.
From a physical perspective, the headstand’s key benefit is in reversing the normal pattern of circulation, sending oxygenated blood powerfully to the brain. This posture is fantastic for fatigue and concentration – I used to do one before an exam to help me concentrate, focus and feel wide awake.
Swami Vishnudevananda says of the headstand:
In Sanskrit, siras means head. As one has to stand on his head upside-down, the position is called sirshasana. We use the brain for many purposes and it is essential to feed this important organ. No other exercise equals the headstand in bringing fresh arterial blood to the brain. In this pose alone can the brain draw a rich supply of pure blood.
The headstand is followed by the shoulderstand.