In modern times, yoga has become a widely popular pursuit for many – with countless people all around the world taking part in the ancient practice for the physical, mental, and emotional benefits that can be obtained.
However, while many poses are held up with great importance, there can only be one ‘king’ of poses – lauded above all others for its benefits to the practitioner.
But what exactly is the king of yoga poses, and why is it considered so important?
How Many Poses Are There?
The number of recognized yoga poses changes depending on who you ask, which specific school of thought within yoga they belong to.
According to early figures in traditional yoga, there are allegedly 84,000 poses – one for every species on Earth – however, it is widely considered that the number of usable, practical poses tends to range anywhere from 84 to 200, with all the others being mere variations or adaptations of them.
Which Pose Is Considered ‘The King’?
Within traditional and contemporary yoga practices, there are many poses that hold prominent positions within the belief system. However, only one has the unofficial title of ‘king’.
This ‘king’ pose refers to the headstand – a seemingly simplistic and commonplace pose within yoga, at least when you consider the complex poses that are practiced, but nevertheless one that has many benefits for the practitioner.
What Makes The Headstand So Special?
Otherwise known as the sirsasana, the headstand is considered such a special move because of the benefits for the practitioner, and the fact that it contorts the body into positions that are never entered into during normal life.
This has meant that it has earned a somewhat coveted position, due in part to this fact, and also the actual difficulty that the position requires practitioners to overcome.
How To Do The Headstand Pose
When it comes to actually performing the headstand pose, there are certain steps you can follow to make it happen.
Step One – Forearm Plank
To begin with, you need to assume the forearm plank position. This is similar to the pushup position, but requires you to rest down on your forearms instead of your hands.
This too is beneficial, and you can always rest in this position if you need more time to process the other steps.
Step Two – Forearm Plank Walk-Up
Next you need to walk up from the forearm plank position – keeping your arms in the same position to steady yourself, and creating a strong base for the next step.
Step Three – Head On Ground
The next step involves putting the head between the forearms, locking it in place in a sense between the two arms, and creating a firm base to push off.
Step Four – One Knee To Chest
Once your head is comfortable, you then need to start raising one leg – bringing the knee up to the chest, and using it as a balancing tool for the next step.
Step Five – Egg Shape
The next step requires you to bring the second leg up – keeping them both retracted into the body, and creating a shape known as the ‘egg’.
This will allow you to get a sense of balance, and prepare yourself for the next and final stage.
Final Step – The Headstand
Once you are in the egg position, and have achieved a sense of balance, you then need to work on engaging your core, extending the legs slowly from the egg position, until you are in the headstand pose.
Once done, hold for 10-20 seconds, before gently returning to the start position.
What Are The Benefits Of The Headstand Pose?
When it comes to the headstand pose, there are many benefits that make it worthy of the title of ‘king’.
Firstly, the headstand pose is thought to improve the mood of the practitioner. This is due to the fact that much of the weight of the body when in the pose is rested on the head and the shoulders, and the stress usually placed on the neck is allowed to fade away.
The rush of blood to the head has also been shown to give a slightly euphoric feeling to the practitioner, which could also go some way to explain why it is thought to improve feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress.
It could also be said that the concentration needed to maintain the position requires you to cast all other thoughts from your mind – something that is also shown for combating depression, anxiety, and stress, and which is a cornerstone of mindfulness.
Improves Memory & Concentration
It is also thought to improve memory and concentration.
This is due to the increased blood flow to the brain, which proponents of yoga believe helps to fuel the brain, improve cognitive function, and keep the thoughts peaceful, ordered, and calm.
There are also beliefs that it improves the function and production of the various hormones in the body – namely cortisol and epinephrine – helping to regulate things like digestion, metabolism, the sleep cycle, and the heart rate.
It has also been thought to improve mental alertness – something that could once again be attributed to the levels of concentration needed, the flow of blood to the head, and the euphoric rush associated with the headstand in general.
Through the increased blood flow, more oxygen is able to reach the brain, helping to improve the mood, cognitive function, and the general sense of alertness that many of us can struggle with during day to day life.
Tones Back & Spine
It has also been shown to help tone the muscles of the back, relieve pressure from the spinal column, and generally help them to become more aligned.
When done correctly, the headstand can greatly benefit the posture, and can be a great way to alleviate lower back pain, or any other aches and pains associated with this region of the body.
It is also good for strengthening the core – something that often gets neglected in many poses, and an area that has much importance when it comes to strengthening our backs and enabling us to function properly in daily activities.
Strengthens The Upper Body
Lastly, the headstand pose also demands a lot from the muscles of the upper body – and as such it can be a great way of working the muscles in the arms, shoulders, the back, and the neck.
This obviously has many benefits and uses with regards to building general strength, but can also help you to avoid injuries, aches, and pains when going about your daily tasks.
It’s certainly true that, within the fabric of modern yoga, there are numerous poses that are lauded as being the best in the land – at least when it comes to the physical, mental, and emotional benefits that can be obtained.
However, as this article shows, there are some that are just better than others. So if you want to learn more about the king of all poses, then be sure to refer to this handy article!