Rishikesh Yoga Series for Daily Headstands

Please be sure to warm up before all exercise. This is an ADVANCED YOGA SERIES. Practice with mindfulness, the series is meant for students already doing yoga daily.

The following set of asanas is referred to as the Rishikesh Series in the very good manual, Yoga Self Taught by Andre Lysebeth (1971). It is an ideal way to begin your day and end your evening. “Subject to the most precise ruling, each pose completes or accentuates the previous one”. Do them in order, and feel refreshed after only 30 minutes of enjoyable yoga, including the Cobra, Seated Twist and Headstand. It was taught by Swami Sivananda at his ashram in Rishikesh, on the Ganges River.

We begin with an inverted posture, Sarvangasana, the Shoulderstand. This will get the blood pumping.

The Halasana, the Plough, increases compression on the neck and stretches the spinal column. Here we massage the stomach and release the blocked ribs.

Bow - Dhanurasana

In the counter posture, Matsyanasana, the Fish pose, the cervicals of the neck are squeezed instead of stretched, ultimately leading to better thoracic breathing.

From the sitting position, in the Paschimottanasana, or Forward Bend, we complete the plough by bending the spinal column without compressing the nape of the neck.




Bolster knees for increased support

Down onto the stomach, we find the Bhujanasana, Cobra pose, to be the third dynamic pose in a row. There is both the compressing of the stomach and the stretching of it. Elongate the neck for better release of the whole spine.

Shalabhasana, the Locust, complements cobra by contracting the lower portion of the torso. Keep the glutes relaxed.

Next is another back bend. Dhanurasana, the Bow pose, which eccentuates the previous stretches to the dorsal muscles. Be sure the big toes point together.

Rising up to sitting, from here we move into the ever important twist. Ardha-Matsyendrasana corrects any intensification of spinal curvatures that may result from successive bending.

Onward to the Sirsasana, or Headstand, crown-jewel of yoga postures.

The series starts and ends with inverted postures. Upon descending from the headstand, lean onto your thumbs, which are placed at the Third Eye… hooked into the brow ridge, and let the full weight of your head be supported.

When the asanas have been completed engage the Uddiyana Bhanda, abdominal squeeze, followed by a advanced breathing (such as the Nadi Shodhana). Culminate with sitting meditation.

Ardha Padmasana

Goddess Kuan Yin in a half lotus.

Take at least 5 minutes for end relaxation, or Savasana. Scan your body for tension. Release with gratitude.

The asanas of the Rishikesh Series are:

  1. Sarvangasana
  2. Halasana
  3. Matsyasana
  4. Paschimottanasana
  5. Bhujangasana
  6. Shalabhasana
  7. Dhanurasana
  8. Ardha-matsyendrasana
  9. Sirsasana
  10. Uddiyana Bhanda
  11. Breathing Meditation
  12. Savasana



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