Yoga Vinyasa Krama (V): inverted postures

We come now to the Quinta delivery in this series in which I intend to be stated succinctly the method of Vinyasa Krama yoga. Today we'll talk about the two major investments of this style: sarvangasana o position of the sail and sirsasana o position on head. Writes Noelia Insa.

Each of them is integrated in an own sequence. But both are part of what we might call the hard core vinyasa krama practice. The master Ramaswami told us that his teacher, the legendary T. Krishnamacharyarecommended perform four postures daily and keep them for long periods. These positions are:

Benefits of investment

Sirsasana and Sarvangasana, on the shoulders and about the head position respectively, are considered as the Queen and the King of all yoga postures. They are one unique contribution of yoga to physical culture and physiotherapy.
Although some contemporary Yogis discussed its antiquity, and consider them with recent inventions, these positions are already mentioned in the Hatayogapradipika as viparitakarani:

There is a wonderful karana or procedure that helps turn off the Sun, (gastric fire). You can only learn a Guru, and not books. If the position of the Sun (stomach) is over the Moon (head) under (i.e. backward) is called viparitakarani (investment). Learn it from a Guru.

Ramaswami, in its August 2009 newsletter, speaks of the beneficial effects of the positions reversed for our health.

  • First of all refers to the cleaning and purifying effect they have these asanas, what today we would call detox effect, and explains it with metaphorical language:

The pelvic area-kandasthana-, according to some Yogis, is the area in which many ailments are initiated. It is also the area where 72,000 nadis said they emanate and also the Kundalini. This area must be kept clean. The dirt should be burned, figuratively. How Yogi?

We have a principle of air in that area which is Apana Vayu. We have also the beginning of the fire in us in abdominal form of gastric fire or Jataraagni. This flame is flowing upward and upright normal gastric fire above the pelvic area, flows upward, sometimes when he is hyperactive, produces a sensation in the esophagus, which we know as heartburn. Yogis, resorting to investment, such as sirasasana and sarvangasana, are capable of placing the pelvic area over the lap area. Now the gastric fire or jataragni, - figuratively speaking - flows into the pelvis and heated and purifies the Nadias and Kandasthan, awake the
Kundalini with the heat. Is supposed to fire is intensified to managing air tatwa or apana by Mula bandha; Thus the dirt from the Kandasthana melts and wakes up the sleeping kundalini.

  • Later, in the same Newsletter, master Ramaswami alludes to the benefits of these positions in the muscles:

.. .estas investments should be considered as unique contributions of Yoga for health. Within the first few minutes of the practice of Sirsasana, the muscles of the legs and thighs, buttocks, relax. Chest, back, shoulders and neck muscles also relax, since they are not needed to maintain posture as in the vertical position tone. Has been found that you due to the relaxation of the muscles leg, the blood pressure in the legs falls to about 30 mm.

  • Ramaswami mentioned also that sarvangasana or stance on the shoulders can reduce blood pressure.

Gravity helps to open many capillaries in the brain, head and face that otherwise may remain partially closed. People with high blood pressure and retina problems will have to be careful. However, people with mild hypertension under control with diet, lifestyle and even medications change could benefit from this position if they had learned it from the first years of life. It seems that increase pressure on the shoulders would result in a reduction of blood pressure. Therefore if one practiced Sirshasana regularly for one sufficient duration, your heart rate tends to reduce, thus reducing the stress on the heart. Gradually there is a reduction in blood pressure.

  • Also the brain results benefited from the regular practice of these asanas:

What is equally important is that Sirsasana helps to improve the circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid, which is useful for the brain and also for packages of spinal nerves, the chakras. Due to increased pressure in the brain due to this fluid, pituitary secretions increase helping the better functioning of the sympathetic nervous system which will help in many ways including dilation of the bronchial tubes, giving a relief to people with asthma. There is drainage from the bronchial tubes, giving some relief to those with chronic congestion in the chest. Many feel greater memory capacity and better overall brain capacity. There are cases of even some correction of the view.

  • The vertebral column WINS on flexibility through the practice of these postures of vinyasas.

The vinyasas as turns, Akunchanasana, bending backward as viparitadandasana in Sirsasana and Sarvangasana in Uttanamayurasana help considerably to the vertebral columnnot only maintaining the flexibility of this structure but also feeding the nadis and chakras or nerve fibres and nerves in the spinal cord.

  • Investments, practiced with proper precautions, are beneficial for pregnant women, since relieve pelvic congestion and the edema legs.
  • Should not forget the effect of inverted postures in the joints main: ankles, knees, hips and spine. Space intra - articular improvement within the joints and therefore the movements of the joints when one makes the various vinyasas also will improve. As you make these asanas, can Flex and extend the foot, which helps the joints of the ankle Asanas such as Akunchanasana in investments given a good relief to the knees. Also be obtained great benefits throughout the vertebral column. It improves the intervertebral space and the spine is stretched well and becomes more flexible. Back pain reduces significantly.
  • And in other May 2009 newsletter, the teacher tells the benefits of inverted postures for the blood circulation, heart and internal organs in general.

There are other unique procedure that the Yogis used to promote the return of the blood circulation heart: are inverted, as sirsasana and sarvangasana, the various vinyasas in these postures asanas. In normal upright position, the heart is in the upper third of the body. This, that helps the heart pump blood efficiently to the 2/3 lower body, including visceral organs and limbs, however difficult the return of blood to the heart due to the gravitational resistance. So as Sarvangasana investments help to drain fluidsespecially the blood of the lower extremities and also visceral muscles. This is emphasized by making a variety of Vinyasas in investments. The combination of Vinyasas in inverted poses, synchronized breathing and Bandhas employment helps return blood to the heart from the muscles and tissues under the heart.


Another view which used to be strongly expressed by my Guru is all the internal organs move slowly or tend to pick up their original positions and therefore get sick or become less efficient due to a partial loss of tone. The heart muscle tone is very good when one is young, but with age and gravity, also these muscles begin to sag, lose their tone a bit, become less elastic, like all other muscles. So the Yogis are turning to investments or viparitakaranis. For the heartSarvangasana is ideal, and in this position the heart rests comfortably in the upper part of the thoracic cavity, well supported and rested. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Sarvangasana is known as the heart of the Asanas. A period of ten minutes in Sarvangasana, the bandhas helps restore the heart back to its original position.

  • Finally, master Ramaswami alludes to the rejuvenating effect of investments and gives them the ability to prolong life. To say this is based on a very interesting concept that appears in the Hatayogapradipika:

It is said that our head contains a liquid called amrita (which can be translated as nectar). This nectar gives us life and drip drop by drop through the uvula in the stomach where it is consumed by fire of the stomach to provide the vital energy to live. This deposit of nectar dries slowly and with his total exhaustion comes the end of life. The Yogi attempts to ration the nectar flow, staying in positions reversed for a period of time every day. During the period of time the Yogi is on the head or shoulders, the amrita remains stored in the head without drip down.

Thus by this daily practice, the Yogi is able to increase, so to speak, its useful life by 5%, i.e. between 3 to 5 years. Usually after sirshasana, the Yogi is supposed that he has to spend the same time on sarvangasana. In position on the shoulders, amrita, although it is still confined to the skull, he is now allowed to flow to all former head and neck portion, and you can nurture so all the sensory organs, two eyes, ears, mouth and nose (shanmukha). This is also considered necessary to maintain the sharpness of the organs of the senses. Sarvangasana is therefore considered good for sensory organs while sirshasana is good for the brain.

Sarvangasana or supine sequence

This series consists of positions that are lying on the ground in supine position.

You could say that it has two parts:

  • The first Asana, up to sarvangasanaserve to get back to sarvangasana or posture of the candle.
  • Sarvangasana and all its variants.

Main positions and vinyasas comprising the supine sequence:

In the first part of the sequence, as we said above, we find positions that prepare the back, shoulders and neck for the position of the candle. These asanas are:

  1. Gesture of the pond or tadakamudra and its variant.
  2. Rotation of waist)jathara parivrtti).
  3. Position of the pelvic floor with one leg)ekapada apanasana).
  4. Release of winds with one leg stance)ekapada pavamuktasana).
  5. The pelvic floor in half-Lotus position.
  6. Position of the pelvic floor)apanasana).
  7. Position of release of winds and its variants.
  8. Position of the control panel)dwipadapitam) and its variants.
  9. Position of the central bridge and its variants.
  10. Position of the fish with legs elevated)uttana padasana).
  11. Position of the bridge)setubandhasana).
  12. Position of the arch facing up)urdhva dhanurasana).
  13. Wheel posture)cakrasana).
  14. Advanced position of the desk and its variants.
  15. Arm lift.
  16. Lifting arm and leg (same side)
  17. Lifting arm and leg (opposite side)
  18. Position of the arms and legs stretched)urdhva prasarita pada hastasana) and its variants.
  19. Legs stretched straight up posture)urdhva prasarita padasana).
  20. Ls legs stretched straight up posture taking your feet with your hands)supta padangusthasana).
  21. Position of the legs stretched straight up 3, taking the legs with his hands and pulling apart)supta padangusthasana prasarita) and its variant.
  22. Posture for Supination of the foot and the fingers of the hand)supta padangusthasana parsva).
  23. Position in Supination of the Middle Cross leg)supta ardha parivarta padasanam).
  24. Position in Supination of the Conqueror of the three worlds)supta trivikramasana).
  25. Bhairavasana.
  26. The dream of the yoga posture)yoganidrasana).
  27. Rotation of waist (2)jathara parivritti).

As you can see, there is a long list of asanas that they put to the position of the candle or sarvangasana to help us prepare the back, neck and shoulders for this inverted asana. In The complete works of Vinyasa Yoga, Ramaswami establishes that:

Although all vinyasas we have seen so far in the category of positions in Supination may serve as preparation for the position over the shoulders, three of them are considered essential before practice the posture on the shoulders in the vinyasas method for the practice of yoga. They are as follows:

  1. Apanasana, position of the pelvic floor.
  2. Urdva prasarita pada hastasana, posture of the U.
  3. Dwipadapitam, position of the desk.

I.e. When you practice the supine sequence you can make all the asanas and vinyasas. But if you only go to sarvangasana as closing of your daily practice, for example, you have prepared previously with these asanas three.

In the second part of the sequence, gather the sarvangasana posture and all their vinyasas and variations:

  1. Stance on shoulders or posture of the sail)sarvangasana): as said you more above, one of the crucial of the whole system of the vinyasa krama positions. Its benefits are countless. However, many people have fear to practise it because it is very demanding for the neck. For this reason, the teacher Ramaswami, in the book Yoga Beneath the SurfaceWhen David Hurwitz asked can we know if someone's neck is prepared or not for practicing sarvangasana, it gives a few tips:
  • Firstly, it is recommended prepare the neck, shoulders and arms with the up to vinyasa contained in the sequence of tadasana.
  • Also says that if a person can remain in shanmuki mudra (closing of all doors) for roughly five minutes in a yogic posture like, e.g., Lotus, without feeling stiffness in the neck or shoulders, this means that this person is ready to comfortably do sarvangasana.
  • Ramaswami he also claims that some long exhalations)rechaka) they can be good preparation for sarvangasana.
  • Also, the master advised that if you are anxious or rigid, it is better to not practicing sarvangasana.
  • Finally, This position should be avoided when you pacecen lesions or pathologies of the neck and the spine such as spondylosis.
  1. Position of a leg in contraction)ekapada akuncanasana).
  2. Position of contraction)akuncanasana).
  3. Position on the shoulders with one leg)ekapada sarvangasana).
  4. Position of the plow)Halasana) and its variant.
  5. Stretch higher up)urdhva mukha pacimottanasana) and its variants.
  6. Position of the triangle upward)urdhva konasana).
  7. Position of the inverted angle)urdhva baddha konasana).
  8. Inverted Lotus)urdhva padamasana).
  9. Fallen Lotus)akuncita urdhva padmasana).
  10. Position of the fetus)pindasana).
  11. Lotus turned invertirdo and its variant.
  12. Inverted Lotus flexed backwards: is the contrapostura of the inverted Lotus.
  13. Position over the shoulders without support)niralamba sarvangasana) and its four variations.
  14. Position of the stretch of the Royal Peacock)uttanamayurasana).
  15. Peacock with a leg stretch)ekapada uttanamayurasana).
  16. Circular ambulation in sarvangasana)sarvangasana mandalam): in this video You can see a show that I recorded during the course of teacher training I conducted with Ramaswami in Dhara Yoga Madrid.
  17. Position of pressure on the ears)karnapidasana).

In this link Anthony Grim Hall blog, you'll find the entire sequence in printable worksheets. Very useful.

Sequence of inverted position or sirsasana

If sarvangasana is the Queen of the yoga postures, sirsasana is King. Krishnamacharya, in the second part of Yoga Makarandaspeaks well of this position:

The objective main sirshasana and sarvangasana is not simply having a copious supply of blood to the head and upper part of the body, but also slow respiratory rate.

When sirshasana has been sufficiently mastered, speed of respiration, which is normally about 15-18 per minute, is automatically reduced to four per minute. The goal should be to reduce it to two per minute. So, at this rate, 24 rounds of breathing in sirshasana will take 12 minutes.

Establishes that sirshasana should be only in the mornings. This must always be followed by sarvangasana. The proper procedure is to make sirshasana 24 inhalations with a deep exhalations. Take two minutes of rest. Then make sarvangasana with 24 rounds of deep breathing. Take two minutes of rest.

Sirshasana organs in the head and the brain receive a copious supply of blood, internal organs in the body are moved up. Two minutes of rest are normalized. Sarvangasana restricts the supply of blood to the head resting the body on the neck and making that Chin work. The thyroid and the upper part of the body's internal organs move upward.

In the book Yoga Beneath the Surface, David Ross ask the master Ramaswami for how long should we keep sirshasana. Ramaswami is giving a series of Tips for practicing position on head:

  • This position should in general be kept a at least 5 minutes, Since it takes time for body fits and starts to relax, and that gravity do its job in the internal organs, muscles and joints.
  • As in the Krishnamacharya in the quoted fragment more above, Ramaswami underlines the importance that the respiratory rate be reduced. A shortness of breath indicates tightness, tension, and that is not good for the position. If on the contrary we can lengthen the breath and make it softer while we are in the position, this will be much more effective.
  • A correct postural technique It is also very important.
  • If you observe all the above points, little by little it can keep the asana between 15 and 30 minutes. A respiratory rate of four breaths per minute It is suitable. After some time in the position, you can practice the variations It includes the sequence.

Main asanas and vinyasas in the reversed sequence:

  1. Position on the head)sirsasana).
  2. Position of a leg in contraction)ekapada akuncanasana).
  3. Posture in contraction)akuncanasana).
  4. Position of half-Lotus contraction)ardha padma akuncanasana).
  5. Position on the head with one leg)ekapada sirasasana), and its variant.
  6. Position of the reverse Eagle)viparita garudasana).
  7. Vinyasa of rotation.
  8. Position of the triangle upward)urdhva konasana) and its variation with twist.
  9. Position of the inverted closed triangle)urdhva baddha konasana).
  10. Position of the inverted Lotus)urdhva padamasana) and its variant with twist.
  11. Invested in contraction () Lotus positionakuncita urdhva padmasana).
  12. Position of the lock backwards half way.
  13. Position of the lock backwards)viparita yoga mudra).
  14. Position of the high stick)urdhva dandasana).
  15. Cane twisted half-way position.
  16. Position of the crooked stick)viparitadandasana).
  17. Sirsasana mandalam.
  18. Position on the head without support)niralamba sirasasana).
  19. Position of peacock feathers raised (halfway).
  20. Position of the Peacock with raised feathers)pinchamayurasana).
  21. Position of the peacock feathers raised in Lotus.
  22. Position of the Scorpion, halfway.
  23. Position of the Scorpion)vrscikasana).
  24. Position on the head without support 2, 3 and 4)niralamba sirasasana).
  25. Position on the head with the hands-free or posture of the skull)MUKTA sirshasana or kapilasana).
  26. Position of the inverted tree)viparita vrkasana).
  27. Position of pressure on the shoulders)bhuja pidasana) and its variant.
  28. Position of the jumping gallo)urdhva kukkutasana).
  29. Position of Ashtavakra)ashtavakrasana).

Also for this sequence you can find printable worksheets with all asanas and postures in This link from the blog of Anthony Grim.


In conclusion, I can only emphasize the importance of being very careful when practicing these positions. As we read in the fragment of the Hatayogapradipika cited at the beginning, these asanas should be learned from a master. Also Ramaswami warns us on The complete works of Vinyasa Yoga:

The problem is that these asanas are difficult to practice and control. However, for a disciplined person as a Yogi is possible. Needless to say, that It should be very careful with the neck and spine. Not the yoga you can practice without being cautious. With coordinated breathing, as in the vinyasa krama, keeping the attention required is much easier.

Nothing more for today. In the next installment We will speak of the back extensions or bending backwards. You can send your questions or comments to

Noelia Insa She is Professor of yoga, MOM, blogger and entrepreneur digital. It helps people to find the balance and serenity through yoga. You can find it at:

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By • Sep 6, 2017 • section: Signatures