All you need to know about Shirshasana and Kapalbhati Pranayama

Yoga in the morning can do wonders for your health. After waking up, one can do Yoga. You don't need a gap between sleep and yoga. Start gently. Yoga can be done empty stomach as well.

The Headstand or Shirshasana

This posture may look imposing to those who haven't attempted it. Nevertheless, it is an extremely powerful asana. It is called the "king of asanas" because of its overall effect on the whole body. For beginners, it is better to ask a friend to help you with this in the beginning.

How to Perform the Asana - Technique

1. Start by kneeling down on your yoga mat. Interlock the fingers of your hands and place them and your forearms on the yoga mat. Keep the elbows fairly close together.

2. Then place the back of your head into the hollow of the palms (not on the palms or fingers).

3. Now rise up off your knees and take a step or two towards your head. Inhale, and slowly raise the legs until they are vertical. Keep your back straight and try to relax. Breathe slowly and deeply from the abdomen.

4. Concentrate on the brain or the pineal gland between the eyebrows. To come down, bend your knees and lower one leg and then the other.

Benefits:

1. The headstand increases circulation to the brain, which causes improved brain function (intelligence and memory) and increased vitality and confidence. It improves many ailments, such as nervousness, tension, fatigue, sleeplessness, dullness, fear, poor blood circulation, bad memory, asthma, headaches, constipation, congested throat and liver or spleen.

2. Adding to the benefits list this asana stimulates four of the most important endocrine glands - the pituitary, the pineal, the thyroid, and the parathyroid glands that are responsible for our very existence. They also keep the body mechanism in good working order. The pituitary gland is called the master gland of the body.

3. If you are losing hair and worried about getting bald soon or later then this asana might help - The headstand promotes hair growth by increasing circulation to the scalp.

4.Sleepless nights? The headstand or Shirshasanai can help you out.

Sleeping disorder can be caused due to many reasons such as poor eating habits, lack of good quality sleep, side effects from medicines. The headstand causes an increase in circulation to the neck, which stimulates the baroreceptors in the neck. This calms the reticular formation down, causing reduced nerve impulses to the cerebral cortex. As a result, you sleep well.

Caution:
  • Don't do the headstand if you have high or low blood pressure.
  • Atherosclerosis (blocked blood vessels) and any history of strokes are also a deterrent to doing the headstand. You must improve your circulatory system first, before attempting it.
  • If you have any serious eye diseases, ask your eye specialist's first before doing the headstand.
  • If you suffer from a neck injury or advanced arthritis in your neck, then doing this exercise should be a strict no-no.

Kapalbhati Pranayama

Kapal in Sanskrit means the skull and bhati is Diya or a lamp. Doing Kapalbhati gives you shining and glow on your face. How? Performing this asana initiates the removal of carbon dioxide from the body, as a result it leads to blood purification. This makes your skin healthy and beautiful. You can sit in either Sukhasana (similar to sitting in a simple cross-legged position) or Padmasana (or Lotus pose is a cross-legged yoga posture which helps deepen meditation by calming the mind.)

How to Perform the Asana - Technique

1. First and foremost, sit in a comfortable position with your spine erect. Place your hands on the knees, palms open to the sky. Then take a deep breath in.

2. As you exhale, pull your stomach. Pull your navel backwards towards your spine. Now repeat the steps quickly and as many times as you can do comfortably.

3. You can keep your right hand on the stomach to feel your abdominal muscles contract.

4. When you relax your navel and abdomen, the breath flows into your lungs automatically. Take 20 such breaths to complete one round of Kapalbhati Pranayama.

Benefits:

1. Always wanted a flat and toned tummy? Performing Kapalbhati everyday can help you achieve that.

2. Kapalbhati also rejuvenates the tired cells of your body, thus helping in reducing wrinkles and other signs of ageing.

3. Improves your digestive tract, absorption and assimilation of nutrients in your body.

4. Move over skin packs, performing Kapalbhati can give you a glowing and a healthy face.

Caution:
  • People with high blood pressure, heart problems should not perform this asana.
  • Women who have recently given birth and girls during their mensurational cycle should avoid this asana.