Shoulderstand, Salamba Sarvangasana Yoga Pose
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.
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
Miller, Olivia H., Essential Yoga – An Illustrated Guide to Over 100 Yoga Poses and Meditations, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2003.
Resources for Further Practice
- Camel Yoga Pose, Ustrasana
The Camel Pose or Ustrasana is an intermediate level kneeling backbend yoga pose. It stretches and strengthens the spine, thighs, abdomen and back muscles. It is an energizing and improves posture.
- Half Forward Bend, Ardha Uttanasana Yoga Pose
This pose helps to strengthen the back and relax the neck muscles which is the region of tension because it has to support the head in an upright position. Find out how to stretch and strengthen them.
- Yoga Poses for Shoulders
The challenges of our life can cause stress and tension in our shoulders and neck muscles. Find out how to relax and strengthen the shoulders through yoga poses.
- Yoga Poses for Legs
Our legs are the most important parts of the body. They support our body weight, help us walk, run, swim, stand and be active in our lives. Yoga is a great way to maintain muscle tone of the legs.
- How to Improve Flexibility of Tight Hamstrings with ...
Did you know that tight hamstrings can cause many injuries, poor posture, inhibit movement, and back pain? Learn how to loosen your hamstrings with yoga and improve performance in sports and daily life.
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