Shoulderstand, Salamba Sarvangasana Yoga Pose

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The Full Supported Shoulderstand or Salamba Sarvangasana an inverted yoga pose is an intense pose with many benefits. Most of the day we are in an upright position walking, standing, or sitting. Performing inverted poses refreshes, energizes, and stimulates the entire body. Inversions help to diminish the effects of gravity, relieve pressure on the internal organs, and bring a fresh supply of oxygenated blood to the upper body, head, and brain. Hatha yoga practice is a wholistic system to provide optimum benefit to all parts of the body.

The Sanskrit words Salamba Sarvangasana means:

salamba = with support

  • sa = with
  • alamba = support

sarvanagasana = all limbs pose

  • sarva = all
  • anga = limb
  • asana = pose

There different variations of the shoulderstands and they all have the same benefits:

  • half shoulder-stand or ardha sarvangasana
  • full shoulder-stand or sarvangasana
  • supported shoulder-stand or salamba sarvangasana (with blankets)

The ability to perform the shoulderstand and the type of variation depends on the student of yoga asana practice.

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Benefits of the Shoulderstand or Sarvangasana

All the variations of the shoulderstand have the benefits of the full shoulderstand or sarvangasana. The benefits are:

  • energizes and stimulates the entire body
  • relieves pressure on the internal organs
  • improves your complexion
  • improves concentration
  • increased blood flow removes toxins
  • improves blood flow to the brain
  • stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands
  • promotes calm and serenity

Caution: Do not perform shoulderstands if you have neck problems, thyroid problems, or menstruating, pregnant, high blood pressure or glaucoma. The best option is to find an experienced yoga teacher to practice this pose.

Easy Shoulderstand, Full Supported Shoulderstand, Fish Pose (counter pose)

How to do the Supported Shoulderstand or Salamba Sarvangasana

This pose is called Supported Shoulderstand because blankets are placed under the shoulders to prevent the neck from being compressed.

Fold firm blankets (2-3inches thick) and to place them under your neck, shoulders and mid-back. The steps to do the supported shoulder-stand are:

  • Lie on your back with your neck, shoulders and mid-back on the blanket
  • Your legs extended on the floor
  • Place arms by your side with the palms down
  • Bend your legs. Exhale and bring your knees toward your chest.
  • Your shoulders should now be positioned at the edge of the blankets, leaving sufficient room so that your neck is not compressed.
  • Inhale again and roll your hips over the shoulderstand
  • walk your shoulder blades toward one another
  • bend the elbows and place your hands to support your back at the waist.
  • when you are ready, extend your legs up vertically.
  • Move your hands higher on your back
  • try to move your elbows closer together
  • Stretch your legs and straighten your back.
  • Stay in the position for 15 seconds to a few minutes according to your ability to maintain it comfortably.
  • Release slowly by bending the legs and rolling the back down.

Counter pose: Move into Fish Pose or matsyendrasana.
Rest in corpse pose or savasana.

Other Inverted Yoga Poses

Performing inverted poses have many benefits and should be included as an important part of the yoga routine. Some of the other inverted poses are:

  • Downward dog or Adho Mukhasana
  • Plough Pose or Halasana
  • Legs-againgst-wall or viparita karani
  • Legs-on-chair or Asansthita Jangha

Reference:

Miller, Olivia H., Essential Yoga – An Illustrated Guide to Over 100 Yoga Poses and Meditations, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2003.

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