Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sarvangasana - Shoulderstand pose

Over time, we'd like to build a big, informative yoga asana library here on the blog. Using photos and description to explain the poses, we'll offer as much insight as possible so you can begin incorporating some of the poses into your home practice...or just read them and be intrigued! This is the first post of that nature. Thanks to Bobby for this wonderful description and precise photos. Enjoy!

Shoulderstand, Sarvangasana.

Lie on your back. Align the head and spine. Relax the entire body and mind.

Contract your stomach muscles and support your lower back by placing the hands palm down on the mat and just below the buttocks. Slowly raise both legs to a 90 degree angle.

Press the arms and hands down and slowly roll the buttocks and the spine off the floor.

Bring the hands around to support the back, keeping the elbows as close together as possible (do this by rolling the shoulders under) and getting as much of the trunk in an upright position as is comfortable. Gently push the chest forward so that it eventually pushes firmly against the chin. Keep your weight in the shoulders rather than letting it fall into the neck - there will be pressure on the neck, but there should be a comfortable balance in neck and shoulders. In the final position the legs are together and the legs and trunk are in a straight line perpendicular to the floor.

Close the eyes, relax the body, and breathe deeply and slowly. Stay in the final position as long as it is comfortable, working up to 3 minutes (or longer).

When coming out of the position slowly move your hands down your back towards the buttocks, returning to the floor one vertebrae at a time until legs return to initial vertical position. Now using stomach muscles slowly return legs to the floor to a slow count of 20.

Health Benefits:

This inverted posture balances the circulatory, digestive, reproductive, nervous systems. The Endocrine system functioning is also optimized as a result of thyroid stimulation when the chin presses against the chest. Other benefits include:

-Calms the mind, relieves stress, fear and some headaches. Also works to clear mental imbalances.

-Enhances Immune system functioning due to stimulation of thymus gland.

-Promotes bone health and regeneration due to stimulation of parathyroid glands.

-Improves air exchange, relieves stress and massages abdominal organs due to inducement of abdominal breathing.

-Tone legs, abdomen and reproductive organs and drains stagnant blood and fluid, increasing circulation to these areas.

-Tones nerves passing through the neck to the brain and increases ear, eye, nose and throat health.

Yoga Therapy Uses:

Sarvangasana is used in yoga therapy to treat asthma, diabetes, colitis, thyroid disorders, menopause and menstrual disorders. This posture is also a means of preventing colds and Flu.


This asana should not be performed by people suffering from enlarged thyroid, liver or spleen, cervical spondylitis, slipped disc, high blood pressure, other heart ailments, weak blood vessels in the eyes. It is also recommended that it not be practiced during menstruation.

Sequence suggestions:

Sarvangasana is ideally practiced before halasana (plough pose). Afterwards, practice either ushtrasana (camel pose) or matsyasana (fish pose) as a counterpose.



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