Sivananda yoga

Sarvangasana – Shoulderstand

February 2, 2011

The word ‘sarva’ means ‘all parts’ in Sanskrit, hence its name, it is said to benefit the entire body.

To stenghten the abdominal and lumbar (lower back) muscles, you can practice single and double leg raises to start off with.

Coming into Shoulderstand:

  1. Lie flat on the back, bring the feet together.
  2. Inhale, bring legs up to a right angle.
  3. Lift the hips off the ground.
  4. Support the back with the hands.
  5. Streighten the body, walking the hands down the back until you are resting on the shoulders.

To hold the pose: The fingers should be pointing in towards the spine with thumbs towards the chest. Keep the legs up. Relax the calf muscles, keep the knees straight and feet together. Relax into the position, breathe deeply through the nose. You may hold the pose for up to 3 minutes.


Sarvangasana - shoulderstand

To come out of the pose, lower the feet to 45 degree angle over the head. Bring the hands, palms downward, flat on floor behind the back. Push the hands into the floor using them as a break, head on the ground. Lower yourself out of the position, unrolling the body, feeling each vertebra as it is lowered to the ground separately. Rest and relax in corpse pose.

Main benefits of the Shoulderstand:

  • The chin presses on the throat, bringing a rich blood supply
  • The thyroid gland is massaged and brought to its proper level of activity
  • Centralizes the blood supply in the spinal column and streches the spine, helping to kepp it strong and elastic
  • As most of the body is inverted, it prevents venous blood stagnating in the lower limbs and encourages circulatio, helping to relieve varicose veins
  • Encourages deep abdominal breathing, massaging the heart and lung regions

Mental and pranic benefits:

  • Relieves lethargy and mental sluggishness
  • Helps to cure insomnia and depression
  • The focus is on the Vishuddha chakra, in the throat region
  • Stimulates pranic (energy) flow in the stomach, small intestine, urinary and gall bladders, pericardium and kidney meridians.

Do not practice the shoulderstand if you:

  • Have neck problem (at least consult your physician before attempting)
  • Do not move the head side to side
  • are pregnant (legs up the wall is fine, but avoid it in the last stage)
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