Sarvangasana widely recognized as Shoulder Stand is an inverted yoga posture, suitable to be practiced by intermediate yoga practitioners. Practicing Shoulder Stand keeps the whole body healthy both mentally and physically. It gives you tons of major health benefits which makes it good enough to be included in your everyday yoga practice. Let’s have a look at the meaning of 3 Sanskrit words from which the name Sarvangasana is derived.
Sarva = All or whole
Anga = Parts of body
Asana = Posture
As you may assume by the name, Sarvangasana is an excellent pose for all the parts of the body. Let’s move on to the steps to practice Sarvangasana along with precautions and benefits.
Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) Steps
- Lie flat on the floor keeping the arms by the side of the body with palm facing downward and legs together. Relax the body.
- Using the strength of your abdominal muscles, slowly raise the legs off the ground until they are perpendicular to the floor. Keep the knees straight and feet together throughout the whole practice.
- Gently press your arms against the floor to raise your buttocks and roll your spine away from the floor till it gets in vertical position.
- Now to support your back, bend your elbows and place your palms behind your ribcage (slightly away from the spine). Keep the elbows shoulder-width apart.
- Move your chest towards your neck (without straining) to make it press gently against the chin. Beginners may avoid doing so as it puts a lot of stress on the neck muscles.
- Stretch the legs with toes pointing in upward direction. This is the final position, hold the pose for as long as you feel comfortable.
Practice once; it can be practiced for 3-5 minutes though for beginners only a few seconds are enough. Follow by Ustrasana (Camel Pose), Matsyasana (Fish Pose) or Supta Vajrasana (Sleeping Thunderbolt Pose). It is also a more simpler alternative to Shirshasana (Headstand Pose) as it offers quite similar benefits.
Release the pose
To move out of the pose, move your legs above and behind your head till your big toes reach the floor (just like the final position of Halasana). Slowly bring the forearms on the floor by the side of the body with palms facing down. Next, bring the legs in the vertical position slowly. Then gently lower the legs on the floor. Relax the body.
- Sarvangasana is most beneficial when practiced right before Halasana (Plow Pose).
- It is normal to experience usual discomfort in the neck muscles. But if you experience a lot of discomfort, use a folded blanket and place it below your shoulder and upper back.
- You can also try to practice against a wall (if you struggle a lot while balancing) in the beginning as that will support your body weight and reduce the stress on neck muscles.
- In an ideal final position of Sarvangasana, the whole body is perpendicular to the floor. The weight of the body is supported by shoulders and back of the neck and head. The support of arms gives you stability, the chest is firmly pressed against the chin while the legs remain straight and relaxed. It takes time to achieve this position though.
- Follow the steps slowly. Never push yourself beyond your capability. Give your body the time it needs to develop the required strength and flexibility. One day you will find yourself practicing the poses which may seem impossible to you at the moment.
Precautions for Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
- Sarvangasana must not be practiced during pregnancy and while menstruation.
- If you suffer from any of this condition avoid practicing this pose: high blood pressure, slipped disc, spinal ailments, heart problems, cervical spondylitis, weal eye vessels, thrombosis, neck or shoulder pain, oversized thyroid gland, liver or spleen.
Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) Benefits
- Beneficial for the digestive, circulatory, respiratory, endocrine and nervous system.
- Increase concentration leading to improved capacity to work.
- Tones abdominal muscles and reproductive organs.
- Reduce mental and emotional stress and anxiety.
- Increase the blood circulation in the brain.
- Tones the nerves that pass from neck to brain.
- Reverse blood circulation keeps the eyesight healthy as well as ears and tonsils.
- Removes the natural gravitational pressure from anal muscles thus relieves piles.
- The chin lock in Sarvangasana massages the thyroid gland and regulates its functioning.
- Flows off stagnant blood from the lower part of the body such as the abdomen, legs and reproductive organs.
Amazed to know the benefits! Tell us what you think about Sarvangasana in the comments section below.
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