Throne Position
Shoftim 5770/2010
KOSHER SUTRA ‘you say, 'I will set a king over myself'' (Deut 17:14)
SOUL SOLUTION Achieve real change
BODY BENEFITS Focus, improve brain functioning

These are days of achievement and accomplishment. The month leading towards the spiritual new year, Rosh Hashannah, is a time for active reflection and dynamic change. We ask the questions:

  • How effective have I been in the last year?
  • How well have I used my personal talents in the world?
  • What is the mark I’m trying to leave on the world?
  • What do I need to improve?
  • How can I be the best version of myself?

Our Kosher Sutra, ‘you say, "I will set a king over myself”’ refers to when the Israelites arrived in the land and they requested that a king was appointed over them so that they could be like the nations around them. They had three in close succession – King Saul, King David and King Solomon – and it wasn’t always smoothest ride that they imagined.

Ruling is difficult, and we find this when it comes to self-discipline. We all have the option to rule over our own body and the Kabbalah identifies the mouth as the place of ‘Malchut’, the divine energy (sefira) of Kingship*. The mouth has a great deal of power of the body, through the food we eat, the words we speak to others and the stories we tell ourselves. We can create powerful relationships through speaking healing words, or we can use our lips to create a hell on earth.

The Kabbalah also identifies the top of the head as the place of ‘Keter’, the crown. The mystics saw the top of the head as a place of receiving Godly energy which is possibly why men and married women cover their heads during prayer, and many religions choose to cover the head.

The yogis discuss the path of Raja Yoga, or royal yoga, which allows us to fulfil our spiritual potential through our body, and the headstand, Sirsansana is referred to as ‘King of the Postures’**. We literally place the crown of the head on the ground and we demonstrate mastery over our balance as we determine exactly how we are prepared to work with gravity, rather than letting it just get us down.

We are now in the month of Elul, a time of spiritual sensitivity when we are told that God is more accessible to us, like a king who goes into the field to meet his people ***. We can apply this Kosher Sutra as an opportunity to remind ourselves that we can take control over our own body and create the life we desire, and we can also choose to seek help from a greater source above, as a further reminder that we are never alone.

Shalom V'Ahava


*Tikkunei Zohar II, introduction.
**Iyengar, ‘Light on Yoga’, p189-190.
***Likkutei Torah, Re’eh 32b.

(c) Marcus J Freed 2010.

HEADSTAND - How to do it

Yogic writings call this the King of the postures. Although it can take a while to master it is immensely fulfilling when you have got it. Just be careful because it’s easy to damage your neck if you go into the position too quickly and you haven’t created a firm base. Technically you don’t really balance on the head that much at all, but rather you are creating a tripod with the two upper arms and the head is just below the apex.

i. Kneel on the ground and place your forearms on the ground parallel to the front of the mat, one in front of the other.
ii. Keeping your elbows in their places, interlace your fingers in front of. Your forearms effectively create the top two sides of a triangle.
iii. Bring your feet up into the equivalent of Downwards Dog, hip-width apart.
iv. Place the crown of your head on the ground, cupped by your hands.
v. Walk your feet forwards, lifting your perenium as much as possible.
vi. Inhale, bending your knees and bringing your hips directly above your head.
vii. Raise your right leg first, followed by your left.
viii. Keep the legs straight and take 10 breaths.
ix. To exit the headstand, slowly lower your legs towards the ground so that you can hover them just above the floor if you wish.
x. Take Camel pose as a counter posture to release the neck and upper shoulders.

Variation: Try the pose leaning against a wall. You can also just do the first four stages of headstand and pause there – this is another variation of the pose.

Advanced: When you are in headstand, take your legs into Eagle and hold.

Benefits: Iyengar points out that the crown of the head is usually the first part of our body to emerge into the world when we are born and it encases the vital organs that control the functioning of the rest of our being. The head is likened to a king because it rules over the actions of the rest of our body and is home to our thoughts and our organs of speech. Regular practice of the headstand can carry on into our old age and there are examples of yoga practitioners who do the pose well into their 80’s and 90’s.

The pose brings extra blood down towards the brain which results in refreshing the mind, bringing a better supply of blood to the pineal and pituitary glands, and increasing overall energy. There are benefits to people suffering from insomnia and loss of memory and it’s also good for relieving colds, foul breath and palpitations. The list goes on; headstand is the ultimate posture recommended for achieving all-round balance.