NOTE: this first appeared in DL on September 12, 2005. i have republished it due to auspicious synchronicity connecting several WF Online Students. May this help you all…


Headstand and the Three Realities of the Genuine Human Being

by Coach Ilg

Iyengar said it best, perhaps; “All these people rush up to me wanting me to teach them Headstand (sirsasana) when they can’t even stand on their two feet yet!”

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, only a few coaching words are given to the practice of asana. You would think modern man would not screw up a few sentences of ancient script, yet, sure enough; we did. The Sutras read;
“That which is a steady and comfortable posture is asana.” – II; 46
“That sort which is effortless and lasts until the completion of the samadhi.” – II;47

or, let me re-Word this for additional dimension to our ‘modern minds’:

“Each asana is to be done to reflect the meaning of the word, asana, which means “to take a seat upon”; thus each yogic posture should be practiced as if it were a meditation cushion; the spine straight, the body steady, and the thought waves of the mind should be become expansive and easy by engagement of the breath awareness.” – II;46 Ilg Translation

“Steadiness and gracefulness within the posture is to be attained through constant practice of awareness, concentration (dharana), and meditation (dhyana) until the mind (manas) becomes absorbed in the absolute (samadhi).” – II;47 Ilg Translation.

Notice in Verse 47 how many elements of the 10 Yogic Commandments are to be included in an asana; 5 out of 10! Why do you TAF that the Ancient Masters told us to Practice first things first; Practice the 10 Commandments of Yoga before ‘graduating’ into the postures! See the Meditation Chapter of the Jeweled Lotus Program in my book, TOTAL BODY TRANSFORMATION, for my transliteration of the 10 Yogic Commandments into a Fitness Warriors lifestyle. Consider this research as a form of your Svadhyaya!

Are you really ready for the True Headstand?

All great inversions must be grown from a beautiful Malasana (Yogi Squat, shown above) and Adho Mukha Svasana (Downward Facing Dog).

First things first! Otherwise; injured physical, mental, and energetic sheaths!

I trust thus far, i have shined a Light upon an often ignored and abused perspective to what just ONE yoga posture truly means. I will now attempt to summarize and pepper my point h(om)e:

Each yoga posture is not intended to be limited to merely its physical realm; each yoga posture is both a symbolic and ignitor for the other two Realities of a human being; astral (emotional) and mental. That a yoga posture is accomplished at a physical Level, is only an asana’s outward expression. The other expressions are of the astral (emotional) body which should be firm and unwavering thus producing a required element for the spiritual man; equanimity of emotive energy (see my BASIC STRENGTH HP YOGA VIDEO for more on the Emotions). The final expression of a yoga posture is reflected by its mental energetic state which is to be absolutely disciplined in order to be eventuated to the service of Ishvara-Pradnidhana (see TBT reference above).

Of these three Expressions and Cultivations of a yoga posture, guess which one is of least importance to the Spiritual Advancement of the genuine yogi? That’s right, bucko, the physical! This is precisely why i teach HP Yoga – the exclusive yoga Practice of my Wholistic Fitness Personal Training System – from such a mental and spiritual (emotive/astral) stance.

So, screw trying to ‘go deeper into’ a yoga posture! Instead apply the Teachings of the Ancients; first things first: Ujjayi breathing, Mula Bandha, and Uddiyana; the three primary focus tools of HP Yoga! i have taught you much about these fitness components in my books, retreats, classes, videos, and most easily accessible in DL. Application of your focus while in a yoga posture toward these Three Great Asanic Tools is what will appropriately train you for what really matters in Yoga; Jiva Mukti! Liberation Through The Body!

Thus, a headstand for instance, is a symbol of and a creative switch that says we are ready to have our entire lives turned upside down and See Clearly without Attachment such a different Reality. Headstand says that we are ready to have our children, parents, house, job, physical body, etc, ripped out from beneath our feet.

Most people are not; this is why most poorly coached yoga students go running off to the nearest Wall For Support when the “teacher” chirps, “Okay everybody, let’s do Inversions! Take your pick; HeadStand or HandStand!”

Do you sense the ignorant Metaphor? The ‘teacher’ of union, by de-couraging their students to use walls and props for inversions is creating addicts to external support and separation!

in HP Yoga, i teach Unsupported HeadStand (Asalambha Sirsasana) from DownDog. In the photo above, i have moved from Downward Facing Down onto my headstand stance. i move my hands to ‘catch the feet’ in this phase. once the feet are caught, the Nadis all along the bottom of both feet should be massaged by finger strength. Doing this accomplishes two things; it appropriately strengthens the neck and shoulders for Headstand while cleansing the Nadis by way of acupressure (granthi) points on the tops and bottoms of the feet. This one phase may; require years to appropriately and naturally strengthen the top of head, neck, torso to withstand the gravity of Sirsansa. It took me eleven hard years to do 63 consecutive pull ups. a enduring Sirsasana should take at least as long so that the body and balance and mental focus is capable of the pranayamic energetics for which Sirsasana is all about!

This is why in HP Yoga, i do not teach Headstand very often and when i do, i teach it genuinely, without bracing the body. Headstand must be grown from the ground up; no walls, no skeletal bracing.

As sister training, the regular (supported) HeadStand is taught in HP Yoga from Bakasana (Crane Pose), this is why the appropriate mental, nervous, and muscle energies are safely brought into being. Here is the Sequence:

Handstand is taught from Bakasana, not walls. Teaching these Grand Inversions in such a genuine manner insures sanctity of self development (appropriately conditioning the Three Realities of a Human Being). HP Yoga’s maxim; “Strength Must Create Suppleness” is why my students do not injure their necks or harm their inward progression.

HP Yoga honors the Scriptures like few contemporary yoga styles do. HP Yoga; Just Inner Strength and Consciousness and Balance, for those you can take into the Three Realms of Man, and most importantly, into the Bardo!

My this help Serve your Practice and open yet another Gateway to your Highest Union (yoga).


– coach ilg

Leave a Reply