Neck Pain and Head Stands in Yoga, Inversion Dangers

Detached retina is a danger of head standThe neck is the most flexible part of the spine and is prone to the most injury. The neck supports the average head, which weighs 10-15 pounds. The headstand, the king of inversions in yoga, has become a kind of merit badge of achievement for many who practice yoga. Those in a more spiritual practice frame of mind appreciate this asana that reverses the emotional and psychic levels to allow a new perspective (literally and figuratively) on past behaviors and thoughts.

The Head Stand in Yoga,Shirshasana

Headstands are the ultimate inversion asana posture in yoga. The focus of gravity is transposed with weight shifted from the top of the body, the head, from the traditional foot, the feet, of the body. The pose requires strength balance trust and a degree of athleticism , balance, trust, and a degree of athleticism in the adult practitioner. It should never be performed by beginner or intermediate students without a spotter or teacher present to observe the form and assist when needed.

Physiology of the Head Stand

Circulation is reversed within the body in inversions. Consequently blood pressure (BP) will increase from a traditional 100/60mmHg at the top of the head when upright to 150/110 mmHg when inverted in the pose.

Normally the BP of the feet will drop to 40/0mm Hg in the head stand. Ideally the heart level remains at a normal 120/80mmHg in the well non-hypertensive adult. Assuming even weight distribution, there is then no strain on the shoulders, neck, or vertebrae be it bone, muscle, or tendons.

What are the Dangers of the Headstand?

The beginning yogi may not be strong or flexible enough to do the headstand correctly and end up n a wobbly position attempting to balance the rest of the body onto the fragile neck. This may overstretch or over-compress the neck vertebrae and discs. There may be pain and possible severe injury. Some dangers of performing a head stand are described below:

Neck pain and strain increased by previous injuries may affect vertebral artery movement and over load the pressure. This neck pressure was described in the New England Journal of Medicine as a potential cause of an unusual arterial dissection (stroke).Yoga students with elevated BP may experience abrupt unhealthy changes in their BP with this inversion.Those with herniation or spondylosis of the cervical spine may have further disc compression or rupture.Eye issues have been recorded such as detached retinas, burst eye vessels and increased intra-ocular pressure for those with known (or unknown) glaucoma.Kidney problems are a contraindication to doing headstands. Pregnant or menstruating women are believed to avoid head stands.Thrombosis and blood clot history is a contraindcation to do a head stand.A head stand may be the cause of a spontaneous fracture of the neck in those with osteoporosis of that area.Alternative Inversions to the Head Stand

Kundalini yoga doesn't teach the headstand. The belief is there is too much pressure put on the neck joint as well as the head. The cervical spine wasn't meant to take on a weight greater than its own. Even lifting the head off the floor in a modified headstand creates joint tension and potential compression. Poses which provide similar benefits are:

Setu Bandhasana-Bridge PoseMatsyasana- fish poseShoulder stand (but not for those with neck or shoulder problems) and supported shoulderstandHalf Headstand where the front of the body is head down and the legs are in downward dog position while the hands support the head on the floor.If headstands are a part of the practice, learn with an experienced teacher who is aware of any past or potential injuries or illnesses. Being at peace in yoga practice means knowing there is nothing to prove to one's self or to others. The ultimate yoga pose is sirvasana a meditative sleep pose, a meditative sleep pose.Read Further

Medical Risks of Yoga

Top Free Internet Sites Listing Yoga Poses and Postures

TENS,Lasers, for Muscle Pain Relief after Yoga


NEJM,Spontaneous dissection of the carotid and vertebral arteries,Mar 22,2001

CMAJ,Norris JW, Beletsky V, Nadareishvili ZG. Sudden neck movement and cervical artery dissection. The Canadian Stroke Consortium. . Jul 11 2000;163(1):38-40

Dissection, Vertebral Artery accessed from the web,Jan 9,2011

Yoga Forums .com

​Luke Burbank: CrossFit to be tied

The CrossFit movement is sweeping the nation, but commentator Luke Burbank wonders why exactly anyone would pay good money to go through the torture:

If you've driven down the street in any major American city, you've probably seen them: exhausted software designers and soccer moms hobbling down the sidewalk carrying or dragging something way too heavy.

Despite how it looks, this isn't some North Korean re-education program. Mo, it's actually a workout/lifestyle called "CrossFit" -- and these sweaty Stockholm Syndrome Sufferers are paying good money to be a part of it.


Living life the CrossFit way.

Luke Burbank

How do I know? Because I was briefly one of them, before my escape.

It started off innocently enough. I had a reunion coming up, and I wanted to get in shape to trick everyone into thinking I'd been staying fit all along (you know, like you do). But there wasn't much time, so I typed "get in shape fast" into the Internet, and up popped "CrossFit."

I found a class in my hometown and I joined up. Soon I was learning a whole new language:

CrossFit gyms are known as "Boxes."

A "WOD" is the workout you'll be doing on a given day.

The "Snatch" is an unfortunately-named weight-lifting technique.

And a "Burpee" is an exercise designed by Satan himself, which seems really easy at first, but eventually becomes completely impossible.

Despite its hardcore ethos, or maybe because of it, CrossFit is sweeping the nation. Back in 2005, there were 13 gyms (excuse me, "boxes"). Now there are more than 5,000 throughout the country.

So why is it so popular? Well, for one thing, it works. It turns out getting up at the crack of dawn to whip kettle bells around like some old-timey strong man, will change the shape of your body.

Then there are the friendships you form. Like any group that's been through a traumatic experience together, you bond with your fellow CrossFitters, holding each other and sobbing quietly at the beginning of class, when you see the workout you have in store.

I tried to be strong. I tried to tell myself I was one of them, that pain was just "weakness leaving the body." But what they don't tell you is that it's also "pain leaving the body," which is painful. And tiring.

Eventually, I had to admit, I'm just not CrossFit material. So I simply called the gym (I mean, "box") and told them I was canceling my membership.

The guy on the phone sounded unsurprised, which I'll admit hurt a little . . . not NEARLY as much though, as doing one more of those burpees.

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