Shoulder Stand Pose

Sarvangasana Pose Or Shoulder Stand


Shoulder Stand

Yes, Shoulder Stand Pose or Sarvangasana is an inversion! Believe it or not!Most of us envision inversions as being difficult and scary. After all, it’s easy to find a million photos of headstands and handstands that will certainly intimidate many new yoga beginners. However, there are numerous yoga poses that offer incredible inversion benefits and they don’t require getting upside down. Don’t get us wrong, headstands are tons of fun, but they may not be suitable for the beginner yoga student.Luckily, Sarvangasana is a simple, safe and powerful inversion that is accessible to most students. The pose also offers a variety of variations to make it more challenging or even a little easier for true beginner students. Instructors will typically teach the supported variation of the posture, especially when instructing beginners. It’s common to see this pose practiced near the end of yoga classes for its calming effects before Savasana.Sarvangasana is the Sanskrit name for this posture. The breakdown for the Sanskrit name is as follows, “Sarva” meaning “All”, “Agna” meaning “Limb” and “Asana” meaning “Pose”. Normally, most yogis will simply refer to this pose as Shoulder Stand Pose as your weight rests on the shoulder area.Shoulder Stand is considered a “full body” or “all limbs” pose because of it’s amazing list of benefits that reach from head to toe. Many refer to this posture as the “Mother” or “Queen” of all yoga poses. It’s also worth mentioning that its sister pose, Headstand Pose, is known as the “King or Father” of all yoga asanas.

Benefits Of The Pose:

As mentioned the “Queen” of all yoga poses provides a plentiful list of benefits. The benefits include but are not limited to stretching the shoulders and neck, lowering fatigue, stimulating the abdominal organs along with the prostate and thyroid glands. Many believe that this posture can also help with sleepless nights by promoting better sleep patterns, there’s also those who believe that Sarvangasana helps fight the common cold and improves digestion.

Most however argue that the most powerful benefits come from the inversion associated with this pose. Simply stated, getting your feet and heart above your head provides significant benefits.

Anytime we reverse blood flow and send fresh blood and oxygen to the heart and brain its beneficial to us in numerous ways. This fresh blood flow can help promote better focus, memory and concentration for many people. It’s also a boost to internal organs to experience this rush of fresh blood flow.

Sarvangasana is also known to be a stimulant for our parasympathetic nervous system. This system is also referred to as the “rest & digest” system. Poses with mild inversions can help stimulate the system and help to slow our heart rate and breath. Plus, as mentioned earlier, this can also help promote intestinal action for better digestion.

If you’re a believer in the chakras, this pose is thought to stimulate the 5th Chakra or Throat Chakra. Stimulation of this chakra can help crank up the spinning energy in the Throat Chakra and lead to better verbal and non-verbal communication. Creativity can also be sparked as the Throat Chakra is closely connected to the Sacral Chakra.

Primary Benefits:

Helps Fatigue

Stimulates Digestion

Stretches The Neck

Stretches The Shoulders

Decreases Insomnia

Prep & Follow Up Poses:

There are a variety of poses that can be used as preparatory poses for Shoulder Stand. Some of these postures include Hero Pose, Plow Pose which is also a mild inversion and Bridge Pose.

It is very common for Sarvangasana to be practiced near the very end of class, as a result, it’s normal to transition into Savasana as a follow-up posture. Fish Pose is also a common pose to practice after spending time in Shoulder Stand.


Modifications & Cautions:

There are both supported and unsupported variations of this pose.

Beginners may elect to use a wall as support by placing their feet onto the wall and then basically walking up the wall into Shoulder Stand. As you advance you should be able to move your feet away from the wall while in the pose.

Some may choose to place a blanket under the shoulders for extra support.

As you grow stronger and more comfortable in the pose, you may elect to experiment with different leg positions while in the pose. For example, some advanced students may place their legs in Lotus Pose position while practicing Sarvangasana.

Generally, it’s wise to avoid this pose if you are suffering from a neck injury, shoulder injury, headache, upset stomach, and menstruation.

Most instructors advise not to add Shoulder Stand to your practice while pregnant, but if you’re experienced with the pose then continuing with the pose during pregnancy is acceptable.


Major Tips:

If needed, just lift one leg at a time into the posture.

Don’t try to rock or move aggressively into the pose, try to use core strength to slowly lift into the posture.

Also, take your time as you move out of the pose, slowly allow yourself to lower down to the mat.

Avoid turning or twisting your neck while in the pose.

Sometimes your elbows may want to slide, it’s a good idea to wipe any sweat from the mat and arms before lifting into the pose.

If you’re a beginner, keep your legs straight and avoid leg movement or leg position variations.

You may want to tuck your shirt before the pose, this will help prevent the shirt from sliding down the body into your face and may prevent unwanted exposure.



Step-By-Step Instructions:

Start by lying flat on your back with your hands by your side on your yoga mat.

Wipe away any excess sweat from the mat and your arms.

Place your feet flat on the mat with bent knees.

Inhale and then lift your hips and legs off the mat, allow your back to curl as you move your knees toward your face.

Move your elbows to shoulders width and then place your hands onto your lower back with your fingers pointing upward. Allow the hands and elbows to support you but keep the core engaged.

Slowly begin to lift your thighs and knees upward.

Once stable, go ahead and fully straighten the legs with the feet flat toward the ceiling. Point your toes if desired.

Try to align your shoulders, hips and feet.

Align your head, neck and spine. Don’t turn or twist your neck or head.

Don’t allow your chest to collapse and touch the chin, keep a space between them.

Hold the pose for at least 10 to 15 breaths, you may be able to hold this pose for minutes at a time as you progress.

Slowly bend your knees and begin to lower the feet and legs, remove your hands from the back and then allow yourself to roll back down to the mat one vertebrae at a time.

You may also elect to lower into Plow Pose before completing the posture and lowering all the way to the mat.