Sarvangasana – Shoulderstand
Shoulder stand is a really powerful pose. It is the queen of the asanas. It’s full of benefits and tends to be more accessible than other inversions.
How to get into the shoulderstand pose?
- Lie on your mat, with your head towards the ceiling. Check that the head and spine are aligned and that the legs are straight with the feet together. Lay your arms on the floor alongside your torso, palms facing down. Relax the entire body and mind.
- Inhale, then bend your knees and set your feet against the floor with the heels close to the sitting bones. Exhale, contract the abdominal muscles, and with the support of your arms, (press your arms against the floor ) you push your feet away from the floor, drawing your thighs into the front torso.
- Continue to lift by curling the pelvis and then the back torso away from the floor, so that your knees come toward your face.
- Stretch your arms out parallel to the edge of the blanket and turn them outward so the fingers press against the floor (and the thumbs point behind you). Bend your elbows and draw them toward each other. Lay the backs of your upper arms on the mat and spread your palms against the back of your torso.
- Raise your pelvis over the shoulders, so that the torso is relatively perpendicular to the floor. Walk your hands up your back (toward the floor) without letting the elbows slide too much wider than shoulder width.
- Inhale and lift your bent knees toward the ceiling, bringing your thighs in line with your torso and hanging the heels down by your buttocks. Press your tailbone toward your pubis and turn the upper thighs inward slightly. Finally inhale and straighten the knees, pressing the heels up toward the ceiling. When the backs of the legs are fully lengthened, lift through the balls of the big toes so the inner legs are slightly longer than the outer.
- Soften the throat and tongue. Firm the shoulder blades against the back, and move the sternum toward the chin. Your forehead should be relatively parallel to the floor, your chin perpendicular. Press the backs of your upper arms and the tops of your shoulders actively into the blanket support, and try to lift the upper spine away from the floor. Gaze softly at your chest.Gently push the chest forward so that it presses firmly against the chin.
- In the final position the legs are vertical, together and in a straight line with the trunk. The weight is supported by the shoulders. The arms provide stability, the chest rests against the chin and the feet are relaxed.
- Close your eyes. Stay for a couple of breaths in this pose. Make sure you are breathing slowly in this pose.
To come out of this pose:
- Bring the legs forward until the feet are above and behind the back of the head.
- Bent your knees and bring them close to your chest.
- Release the hands slowly and place the arms on the floor, palms down.
- Slowly and gently you can now lower each vertebra to the floor, followed by the buttocks. So that the legs resume their initial vertical position
- Relax in savasansa.
Benefits of the shoulderstand
In addition to stimulating the thyroid gland, this pose also relieves stress and depression, improves digestion, opens the shoulders and neck, and strengthens your legs, butt, arms, and abs.
- Calms the mind and helps relieve stress and mild depression
- Stimulates the thyroid and prostate glands and abdominal organs
- It stretches the shoulders and neck
- Tones and strengthens the legs and buttocks
- Improves digestion
- Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause.
- Reduces fatigue and alleviates insomnia.
- Therapeutic for asthma, infertility, and sinusitis
- Don’t forget to breath.
- Weight should be on the shoulders.
- Make sure your elbows are not moving out: Beginners’ elbows tend to slide apart and the upper arms roll inward, which sinks the torso onto the upper back, collapsing the pose and potentially straining the neck.
- Don’t twist your neck to the side.
- Limit time: As a beginning practitioner stay in the pose for about 30 seconds. Gradually add 5 to 10 seconds to your stay every day or so until you can comfortably hold the pose for 3 minutes.
- It’s common in this pose for students to press only the index finger sides of the hands against the back. Be sure to spread both palms wide against your back torso. Push in and up against the back ribs, especially with the ring fingers and pinkies.
Use of props supporting the shoulderstand:
Blankets: If you have neck issues, fold one or two thick blankets under your body so that your head rests just off the blankets on the floor, and your shoulders and arms are on the blankets.
How: Fold two or more firm blankets into rectangles measuring about 1 foot by 2 feet, and stack them one on top of the other. You can place a sticky mat over the blankets to help the upper arms stay in place while in the pose. Then lie on the blankets with your shoulders supported (and parallel to one of the longer edges) and your head on the floor.
Use the wall: Rolling up into Sarvangasana from the floor might be difficult at first. You can use a wall to help you get into the pose. You can use a wall to help you get into the pose. Set your blankets up a foot or so from the wall (the exact distance depends on your height: Taller students will be farther from the wall, shorter students closer). Sit sideways on your support (with one side toward the wall) and, on an exhalation, swing your shoulders down onto the edge of the blanket and your legs up onto the wall. Bend your knees to right angles, push your feet against the wall and lift your pelvis off the support. When your torso and thighs are perpendicular to the floor, lift your feet away from the wall and complete the pose. To come down, exhale your feet back to the wall and roll down.
- Pregnancy: If you are experienced with this pose, you can continue to practice it late into pregnancy. However, don’t take up the practice of Sarvangasana after you become pregnant.
- Neck injury
- High blood pressure
- Don’t perform this pose without sufficient prior experience or unless you have the supervision of an experienced instructor.