June 27, 2011

Two Types of Headstands: Where Do You Put Your Head?

Bregma Vs. Crown Headstand

I was reading Anatomy of Hatha Yoga when I came upon two types of headstands. Who knew? So I went ahead and tried both. It turns out I have been practicing the “bregma” style and was only vaguely aware that there might be another one.

Not only that I did not even know that the word bregma existed!

As a reference: The crown of the head is located in the area where your hair spirals out as opposed to the bregma part of the head which (see yellow skull image above) is the area where the skull joins the frontal to the parietal bones. This area is soft for babies as the suture does not harden for a while after being born.

The book has this to say about them:

  • …natural response to the crown headstand is to hold the body straight, to keep the lower back flat.”
  • In the bregma headstand it is more natural to permit the lower back to relax and arch forward allowing gravvity to increase the lumbar lordosis.”
  • The bregma headstand has a more dynamic effect on your consciousness than the crown headstand”…”The crown headstand is calm and poised
COWN Headstand – Straight back. A new experience for me

So, what does Yoga Mala, Pattabhi Jois say about it?  “…Then inhale and exhale, place the crown of the head on the floor, interlocked hands cupping the back of the head and, breathing in and out, straighten the legs, keeping them together and straight, lift them up with the power of the arms, tighten the body, point the toes…”

B.K.S. Iyengar: “Rest the crown of the head only on the blanket, so that the back of the head touches the palms which are cupped. Do not rest the forehead nor the back but only the crown of the head on the blanket” (Light on Yoga)

A.G. Mohan does not clarify the exact postion of the head (in Yoga for Body Breath and Mind), but says that ideally the body would be perfectly vertical, pointing to a crown position for the head.

Ramaswami, in his Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga, just as Mohan, does not specify, but looking at the pictures you can clearly see that it is the crown cupped on the hands and the spine and pose altogether is fully straight.

BREGMA: Almost thinking back bend,
perhaps I am exaggerating it a bit…
BREGMA So here it is without the exaggeration, still the curvature
of the lower back is more pronounced than in the crown
I have noticed that the bregma headstand is not only what I have been doing so far, it is also pretty unstable compared to the crown.

Which part of the head do you place on the mat?

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Ali Jun 30, 2011 10:34am

I learned my new favorite word today. So long, antidisestablishmentarianism!
Thanks for the article 🙂

Claudia Jun 29, 2011 7:34am

Thank you Bob 🙂

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Claudia Azula Altucher

Claudia Azula Altucher has studied yoga for a long time. Her only focus these past eight years has been on Ashtanga through which she studied at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India (three study visits so far), and at Centered Yoga in Thailand (focus on practice, philosophy and pranayama).

Currently she studies at Pure Yoga in NYC. She has taught yoga classes in both Spanish and English.
She is also the Author of: 21 Things To Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice (you can get a free PDF at her blog). She writes daily at ClaudiaYoga.com And you can follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ClaudiaYoga