Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana II)

The Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana II): A Comprehensive Guide to Perfecting Your Inversion Technique

Hello, I’m Dav Jones, a dedicated yoga practitioner, and teacher trainer passionate about guiding individuals in their yoga practice and spiritual endeavours. Today, we’re going to take a look at the Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana II), a dynamic and challenging pose from the headstand family. Together, we’ll learn the fundamentals of this inversion and a safe way to perform this pose. I’ll provide insights on how the tripod headstand can greatly improve your balance, strength, and overall yoga practice.

What is a tripod headstand (Sirsasana II)?

The Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana II) is an advanced inverted yoga pose where the body is balanced on the crown of the head and supported by the arms arranged in a tripod. This pose demands technique, balance, and concentration. The engagement of the core, shoulders, and legs is required in order to feel stable in the headstand. It is renowned for improving mental focus, and physical stability.

Tripod Headstand Yoga (Sirsasana II) Basics

Sanskrit: Sirsasana II

Pronunciation: sir-SHAH-sah-nah two

Meaning of Sirsasana II: “Sirs” means head, indicating that this pose is performed on the head with the support of the hands, forming a tripod configuration. This alignment creates a stable base for the inverted posture, emphasising balance, and upper body strength.

Yoga Level: Advanced

Pose Type: Inversion

Preparing for Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana II): Essential Pre-Poses

Before attempting the challenging Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana II), it is crucial to adequately warm-up and prepare the body to ensure safety and effectiveness in the pose. Here’s a brief overview of some essential pre-poses that help develop the necessary strength, stability, and flexibility:

Dolphin Pose

Dolphin Pose

Strengthens the shoulders, arms, and core while opening the chest. Ideal prep posture for building strength in the shoulders and arms.

Crow Pose (Bakasana)

Crow Pose (Bakasana)

Enhances wrist and arm strength and improves balance, which is vital for maintaining stability in a headstand.

Tripod Headstand Prep Position

Tripod Headstand Prep Position 

Spending time being inverted and placing weight on the head is a worthwhile practice in preparation for Tripod Headstand.

Forearm Plank

Forearm Plank

Builds core strength. Long holds in this posture can help build the necessary prerequisite strength in the abdominals for headstand.

Steps to Safely Perform a Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana II)

After warming up with the above key preparatory poses, you’re ready to attempt the Tripod Headstand. Here’s a concise guide to entering and maintaining this pose safely:

Step 1. Set Up Your Base

Set Up Your Base
  • Begin by kneeling on your yoga mat with the knees together. Place your palms on the mat, roughly aligning the thumbs with the knees. Turn your fingers outward and spread your fingers wide to create a stable base. Position the crown of your head on the mat between your hands, forming a sturdy tripod base with your palms and head.

Step 2. Preparing for Lift-Off

Preparing for Lift-Off
  • From the kneeling position, straighten your legs and begin walking your feet toward your hands. Continue this movement until your hips align directly over your shoulders. This alignment helps prepare your body for more of a stacked centre of gravity when it comes to lifting off.

Step 3. Placing the Knees on the Triceps

Set Up Your Base
  • Place the knees on the triceps. This step is a vital one as it allows the practitioner to check in with their arm position. We are aiming to have the elbows stacked over the wrists and the fingers turned out to keep the elbows hugging inwards.
  • Draw the heels of the feet towards the buttocks.

Step 4. Tripod Headstand Tuck Position

Tripod Headstand Tuck Position
  • Slowly lift the knees off your Triceps bringing the thighs together. Bring the thighs to the height of the hip into a tuck position. 
  • To maintain stability, hug the elbows inwards towards each other, and hug the thighs together. 

Step 5. Tripod Headstand Single Leg

Tripod Headstand Single Leg
  • After a few breaths in the Tripod Tuck position, slowly start to straighten through one leg. Keeping the other leg in a tuck position.
  • Continue to hug elbows towards each other.
  • Keep shoulders depressed (shrugging downwards towards hips). This keeps pressures off the neck region.

Step 6. Final Position – Tripod Headstand.

Final Position - Tripod Headstand
  • Keeping the stability through the arms and core, slowly start to straighten the bent leg, gradually bringing feet together.
  • Hug heels together and engage the glute muscles to stay stable through the headstand.

Step 7. Hold and Breathe

  • Maintain the pose: Focus on your breathing and try to hold the pose for a few breaths or longer, depending on your comfort and skill level.

Step 7. Exit Carefully

  • Lower your legs: Reverse the steps to come down safely. Bend your knees, lower your feet to the ground, and sit back into Child’s Pose to relax and allow your blood circulation to normalise.

Avoid the tripod headstand if you have:

  • Any recent or chronic injury to the neck.

  • Chronic lower back pain or injuries.

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension).

  • Glaucoma, detached retina, or any other eye condition where increased blood pressure in the head (due to inversion) could pose risks.

  • Any recent surgery, especially involving the eyes, back, neck, or spine.

  • Headache or Migraine, Ear Problems, Pregnancy

Tripod Headstand Benefits

Practising the Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana II) offers a range of benefits across physical and mental dimensions. Here are some of the advantages:

  • Strengthens Upper Body: Enhances strength in the shoulders, arms, and neck which are essential for many daily activities and other activities.

  • Improves Balance and Core Stability: The need to maintain balance in this inverted position helps strengthen the core muscles.

  • Boosts Blood Circulation: Inverting the body increases blood flow to the brain, which can help improve cognitive functions and increase alertness.

Beginner’s Tips for Tripod Headstand

Here’s a concise list of beginner tips for practicing the Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana II) safely and effectively:

  1. Build Foundation: Master basic poses like Dolphin and Crow poses for strength.
  2. Use Props: Practice near a wall and use padding for the head for safety and comfort.
  3. Hand Placement: Set hands shoulder-width apart, forming a triangle with your head and hands.
  4. Progress Slowly: Start by lifting one foot at a time, and build to both.
  5. Alignment Focus: Keep hips over shoulders for balance.
  6. Listen to Your Body: Exit the pose if you feel discomfort, especially in the neck or spine.
  7. Rest Afterward: Use the child’s pose to recover and normalise blood flow.
  8. Seek guidance: Practice with an experienced yoga teacher for proper technique.
  9. Contraindications: Avoid if you have high blood pressure, neck/back issues, or other relevant health conditions.
  10. Be Patient: Develop skills gradually and be patient with your progress.

What is the difference between a tripod headstand and a headstand?

The tripod headstand (Sirsasana II) and the traditional headstand (Sirsasana I) are both inverted yoga poses where the body is balanced on the head, but they differ in their setup and difficulty. In the Tripod Headstand, you balance on your head and two hands forming a triangular base, requiring more arm strength. 

The traditional headstand uses a broader base with the forearms on the ground, making it more stable and easier for beginners. Thus, the tripod headstand is more challenging, requiring strong arms and balance, while the traditional headstand is more stable and beginner-friendly.

Final Thought

We’ve explored Tripod Headstand, highlighting its techniques and benefits for enhancing your yoga asana practice. If you’re interested in deepening your practice, consider joining the Dav Jones Yoga membership online yoga classes on Patreon. If you’re looking for a more tailored/specific approach to your practice, then take a look at the Dav Jones Yoga mentorship program.

FAQs

This depends on your overall fitness and yoga routine, but incorporating it 1-2 times per week can help improve your strength and balance needed for the pose. As with any yoga posture, allow time for recovery, especially if you’re a beginner.

Focus on creating a strong, stable base with your hands and head, and practice engaging your core muscles to maintain balance. Using a wall for support can also help build confidence and improve your technique.

Beginners should start by holding the Tripod Headstand for a few seconds and gradually increase the duration as they gain strength and stability.

If you feel dizzy during a tripod headstand, carefully exit the pose and rest in Child’s Pose or lie flat to stabilise your circulation.

Yes, beginners can modify the Tripod Headstand by practising against a wall or by practising long holds in other inverted postures like Dolphin Pose of Downward Facing Dog. These more standard inverted postures will build strength in the areas of the body needed to feel stable in Tripod Headstand.

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