Shoulderstand Asana and Respiratory Conditions
Some people are at an increased risk of having respiratory conditions such as allergies, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease when they are exposed to pollutants in their environment in a constant manner.
Yoga poses and pranayama breathing techniques that cleanse the tissues of the nostrils and the throat (another article on this will follow) are invaluable to ward off illnesses from ambient pollution. The shoulderstand is one of the poses to cleanse the lymph nodes and vessels of the throat. Some yoga texts state that this pose has a restorative and a replenishing effects on the throat chakra, nasal cavity, thyroid and parathyroid glands, lymph nodes, and the tongue.
A node is a connecting point at which several lines come together, and the lymph node is the source of lymph and lymphocytes. A lymphocyte normally makes up a quarter of the white blood cell count but increases in the presence of infection.
The shoulderstand and the plow poses imply balancing on the shoulders. Stiffness in the shoulders and upper torso force the yoga practitioner to be careful in doing these two poses. It is essential to put a light pressure on the throat and neck as the shoulderstand and the plow poses ARE NOT neck stands.
The shoulderstand supports the release of blood and bodily fluid from the legs, abdomen and chest. Optimal release takes place with a gentle compressive force. When lymphatic nodes are compressed in a gentle manner, they respond with greater capacity for contraction, secretion and absorption. Excessive weight on the neck when doing the Shoulderstand can impede the rhythmic flow of lymph and inflame the cervical vertebrae, inter-vertebral disks, and associated spinal nerves.
Be Where You Are, Not Where You Think You Should Be.
How to execute the Shoulderstand
- Use a supportive level to avoid excess pressure on the neck. The support must be soft but firm. A 4-6 inches high stack of blankets would do.
- Lie on your back and place your shoulders at the edge of the support so that your head is below the level of your shoulders on the yoga mat or the blanket where you’re lying down.
- Your arms are alongside your hips.
- Bend the knees and have your feet on the floor with the heels close to the sitting bones.
- As you exhale, press your arms on the floor and push your feet on the floor.
- Start by curling the pelvis and then lift your back away from the floor, so that your knees come closer to your face.
- Bend your elbows and place the back of your upper arms on the blanket close to your body and spread your palms against the back of your torso. Raise your pelvis over your shoulders in such a way that your torso is somewhat vertical. Walk your hands up your back (in the direction of the floor) without letting the elbows slide too much wider than the width of your shoulders.
- Your weight is resting on the shoulder blades NOT ON YOUR NECK. Most of your weight in fact is on the highest edge of your shoulder blades.
- Make sure you’re comfortable in this pose. You should not feel pressure in your eyes or ears.
- Press your hands firmly into your back ribs and extend your legs up toward the ceiling away from your pelvis.
- To come out of the Shoulderstand, bring your legs back into the plow pose and slowly lower them to the floor without raising your head. Use your hands by pressing them on the yoga mat so you can bring your body down on the yoga mat in a smooth manner.
- Relax in the Corpse pose for a minute before you move on to the next pose. To do that, stay on your back, let your arms and legs drop open, with the arms about 45 degrees from the side of your body and stay with eyes closed for a minute. Keep your knees bent if you wish.
We take a few moments in between poses to observe any physical sensations we may feel. This keeps us more in touch with our body and allows us to be more in tune with our physical needs.
Hold each of these variations for up to one minute:
– Bring your elbows closer to each other.
– Bring the inner feet of the extended legs together.
– Have your feet open hip-distance away from each other.
– Have your feet as wide apart as your yoga mat.
– Have your feet in wide-angle pose with legs wide apart.
All the while, make sure you soften your throat and tongue as you push your pelvic region up.
Benefits of the Shoulderstand Pose
Traditional yoga texts attribute the following benefits to the safe and regular practice of this pose:
- Tones and revitalizes the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
- Improves the blood supply to the spinal nerves.
- Relieves the varicose veins.
- Stretches the neck and shoulders.
- Helps to promote clearer thinking.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.