Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Understanding the Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or the Half Head Stand Pose!

Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose is one of the common inverted asanas and is considered as a preparatory pose for the full head stand or the Sirsasana.

Bhumi Pada Mastakasana like other asanas gets its name from Sanskrit where "Bhumi" means "Earth", "Pada" means "Foot", "Mastak" means "Forehead" and "Asana" means "Pose" or "Posture."

Bhumi Pada Mastakasana is also called The Half Head Stand Pose because of the shape body assumes when in final position. The entire body rests on the feet and crown of the head when in final position and hence the name.

Though this yoga is considered a preparatory asana for full head stand it is even more difficult than Headstand if you stay in the final pose for a longer duration.

It requires a lot of core, abdominal strength and a lot of practice to master Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose.

This Yoga Pose is considered one of the most powerful asanas practiced in yoga vidya. It is essential to release the tightness in your hamstrings and build your upper body strength before practicing Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose.

Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or the Half Head Stand Pose

How to Do Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or the Half Head Stand Pose?

To practice Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand you must get into Marjariasana or The Cat Pose.

Steps to do Marjariasana or the Cat Stretch

  • To practice Marjariasana or the Cat Stretch, get on the yoga mat on your fours i.e. both hands and knees resting on the floor in such a way that your back forms a table like structure.
  • Keep your arms perpendicular to the floor, with the hands directly under the shoulders and flat on the ground and your knees are hip-width apart. Keep looking straight a point while practicing Marjariasana or the Cat Stretch
  • While inhaling, raise your chin and tilt your head back, push your navel downwards and raise your tailbone to practice Marjariasana or the Cat Stretch.
  • Hold the Cat pose and take long, deep breaths.
  • Hold this pose for a few breaths or for as long as you can for maximum benefits.
  • The longer you hold the pose, the greater benefits your body derive from Marjariasana or the Cat Stretch.

Steps to do Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or the Half Head Stand Pose

  • Get into Marjariasana or the Cat Stretch on the floor or on the yoga mat to practice Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose.
  • Stay in this pose for a few breaths to prepare to get into Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose.
  • Extend your arms straight out in front of you and bend them at your elbows.
  • Your forearms should be resting on the floor in front of your knees.
  • Bend down on the ground or yoga mat in such a way that you place the top of your head or the crown of your head right in the front of your interlocked fingers.
  • Place your hands around your head in such a way that the hands lightly cup around your head to protect it on the ground and support your body.
  • Now, to get into Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose, you need to straighten out and lift your knees from the floor in such a way that you lean your body forward so that your head is resting on the floor.
  • In this position, your body should be supported by the crown of your head, the hands and your feet on the ground.
  • You should never turn your head when practicing inverted asanas like Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose.
  • To get into the final position, try to support your body on the ground and take your arms behind your back and interlock the fingers of both hands behind your back. This is the final Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose.
  • The final Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose is very difficult to hold on the ground for a longer time.
  • Make sure that there is no pressure on your head and body remains supported. If you think you are not able to hold it and can't bear the pressure, shift the weight of the body on the arms again by bringing them around your head.
  • Hold this pose for 30 seconds or for as long as you can to derive maximum benefits from Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose.
  • To release the pose, get on your knees and come back in Marjariasana or the Cat Stretch.
  • Lie down on your back and relax in the Corpse Pose or Shavasana.
  • You can practice three to four rounds of Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose.
  • Once you have mastered the Half-Headstand, you can move on to Sirsasana or Full Headstand.

Breathing Pattern to Be Followed While Practicing Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or the Half Head Stand Pose

  • Inhale deeply while getting into Marjariasana or the Cat Stretch.
  • Exhale once you get into Marjariasana or the Cat Stretch
  • Maintain continuous deep breathing while staying in Marjariasana or the Cat Stretch.
  • Inhale deeply while stretching your legs straight and bringing the crown of your head to rest on the floor while getting into Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose.
  • Exhale after assuming the final The Half Head Stand Pose.
  • Maintain a constant breath while holding Bhumi Pada Mastakasana. Keep inhaling and exhaling deeply while holding the pose.
  • Exhale deeply once you release this yoga pose.

Preparatory and Follow Up Asanas to Practice With Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or the Half Head Stand Pose

Preparatory Poses The various preparatory poses to be practiced before Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand are:

  • Salabhasana or the Locust Pose.
  • Naukasana or the Boat Pose.
  • Plank Pose along with Side Plank and One Legged Plank Pose.
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana or The Downward Dog Pose.
  • Marjariasana or the Cat Pose or Cat Stretch.
  • Janu Sirsasana and Paschimottanasana.

Follow up Poses: The various follow-up poses to be practiced after Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand to counter the stretches in this inverted pose are the other inverted asanas and Sirsasana or The Headstand.

Benefits of Practicing Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or the Half Head Stand Pose

Practicing the Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand on a regular basis and including it in your daily yoga practice is very beneficial for the body in a number of ways and some of them are mentioned below:

  • The Half Head Stand helps in increasing the flow of blood to the brain and thus helps in flushing out toxins stored in the body which also helps in getting a glow on the face.
  • Bhumi Pada Mastakasana is beneficial in draining excess blood and lymph collected in the legs.
  • It helps in oxygenation of cells by increasing the supply of blood to all the parts of the body.
  • Rejuvenates the functioning of the glands and nervous system
  • Bhumi Pada Mastakasana helps in maintaining the health of the uterus and ovaries and thus helps in improving the health of the female reproductive system.
  • Due to the inversion, extra nourishment is carried to the face, ears, eyes, nose, throat, and lungs while practicing Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand
  • It strengthens the muscles of the neck, back, and shoulders.
  • It also opens up your rib cage and muscles of the back.
  • Bhumi Pada Mastakasana also offers the benefit of improving the alignment of the spine with regular practice.
  • It stimulates your abdominal organs and eases flatulence and acid reflux
  • It helps in increasing concentration and memory with regular practice
  • The Half Head Stand helps in relieving constipation when practiced regularly.
  • It helps relieve you of all the back problems.
  • Bhumi Pada Mastakasana lengthens your spine and opens your shoulders.
  • It helps in balancing the mind, increases the power of concentration, allows more awareness of the unconscious realms and induces physical and mental relaxation quickly. The thinking process becomes very clear and precise with regular practice of Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand.
  • It quiets your mind and prepares you for meditation
  • It refreshes and rejuvenates you and also relieves you of stress and mild depression.
  • The Half Head Stand makes your body flexible and tones the core muscle of the body.
  • With regular practice, Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand help treat varicose veins
  • It reduces swollen ankles and legs.
  • Regular practice of Bhumi Pada Mastakasana helps in relieving symptoms of hemorrhoids.
  • It also helps in reducing problems with the thyroid, parathyroid, and pituitary glands.
  • The Half Head Stand increases the blood flow to the scalp and also helps reduce hair fall with regular practice.
  • It also helps in reducing respiratory illnesses with regular practice.

Precautions and Contraindications While Practicing Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or the Half Head Stand Pose

  • Pregnant females should not practice Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand as it exerts a lot of pressure on the abdomen.
  • Females who are menstruating should also not practice this.
  • People who have any issues or pain in their neck or back and have had recent surgery to your neck or back in the recent past should also not practice Bhumi Pada Mastakasana.
  • If you have any doubts about your condition, consult a physician before practicing The Half Head Stand and always practice asana under the supervision of a trained yoga expert as it helps to keep away any injuries
  • Do not over exert yourself while practicing The Half Head Stand. Do not push yourself beyond the limits. Go only as far as your body allows.
  • People suffering from chronic spinal problems should not practice Bhumi Pada Mastakasana.
  • It is most beneficial when you stay aware of the stretches in the muscles while holding the pose. So, always remain aware while you are practicing this yoga.
  • You should not practice Bhumi Pada Mastakasana if you had a heavy meal.
  • People with Chronic headaches or migraines should not practice this yoga.
  • It should not be practiced by people suffering from Diarrhea.
  • Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand should not be practiced by people with eye ailments like Glaucoma, Near Sightedness, conjunctivitis, Detached Retina, and sinusitis.
  • It should not be practiced by people with chronic heart-related issues.
  • It should never be practiced by people suffering from Vertigo.
  • The Half Head Stand should not be practiced by people with Slipped disc.
  • People with brain injury or any brain diseases should not practice Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand pose.
  • People with high blood pressure should also not practice this yoga.

Tips While Practicing Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or the Half Head Stand Pose

  • If you feel any sharp shooting pain while practicing Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose, release the pose immediately and lie in Shavasana.
  • When in Bhumi Pada Mastakasana, if you feel pain in the knees, move your arms slightly forward from the sides to ease the pain.
  • You must prepare your body to practice The Half Head Stand Pose by doing the preparatory stretches and steps.
  • You should also know your body limits and how much pain and stretch your body can bear if the stretch and pain are too much to bear, come out of the pose immediately and rest in any relaxation poses like Shavasana.
  • Bhumi Pada Mastakasana is an advanced pose and should be practiced with constant efforts and under the guidance of a trained Yoga Expert.
  • Beginners should not hold Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose for more than a few minutes.
  • You can place a folded blanket or yoga mat under your elbows and forearms to reduce the pressure on your head while practicing this yoga pose.
  • If you cannot manage the pose at all, try doing The Half Head Stand Pose asana against a wall. This makes it easier to balance and raise your hips without any fear of falling.
  • Advanced practitioners can deepen the pose by bringing their feet and crown of the head as close as you can while in the final pose.
  • Advanced practitioners can hold the pose for longer durations or for as long as they can while practicing Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose.

Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or the Half Head Stand Pose Variations

There are various variations of Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Head Stand Pose possible that can be done to deepen, lessen or counter the stretches caused during the asana. A few of them are discussed below:

    1. Chaturanga Dandasana or the Four Limbed Staff Pose:

      In Chaturanga Dandasana or the Four Limbed staff pose, the body is rested on arms and feet.

Steps to do Chaturanga Dandasana or the Four Limbed Staff Pose

    • Get into Plank Pose or Khumbhakasana before starting Chaturanga Dandasana on the floor or on the yoga mat.
    • Now, from Plank pose, align your shoulders slightly ahead of the wrists and come onto toes of your feet while pressing the soles of your feet back trying to touch the ground. But make sure you do not touch the ground.
    • Bring your elbows directly over your wrists. The arms should be curved in such a way that the elbows and wrists are in a straight line.
    • While practicing Chaturanga Dandasana or The Four Limbed Staff Pose, slowly lower your body in such a way that it is only a few inches above the floor.
    • Keep your back flat while practicing Chaturanga Dandasana or The Four Limbed Staff Pose
    • Lift through your chest and broaden your shoulders while keeping your shoulders in line with your elbows.
    • Make sure that in this position you are aware of the stretch in all abdominal and leg muscles.
  1. Dwi Pada Viprita Dandasana or Two Legged Inverted Staff Pose

    Dwi Pada viprita Dandasana is the inverted version of Bhumi Pada Mastakasana or The Half Headstand pose

Steps to do Dwi Pada Viprita Dandasana

  • Lie on your back to practice Dwi Pada viprita Dandasana.
  • Bend the knees and elbows and place the hands on the mat just behind the shoulders.
  • Inhale and press into the hands and feet coming into full Wheel position while raising your torso up.
  • Hold Wheel for 2-5 breaths to get comfortable here.
  • Interlace the fingers behind the head to get into the final position.
  • Press the elbows, forearms, and wrists into the ground to stabilize the pose.
  • Slowly and gradually try to extend the legs away from you.
Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: April 5, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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