Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Asanas (Yoga Poses) Glossary

What is Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)?

Sarvangasana, also known as the Shoulder Stand, is a popular yoga pose that involves balancing the body on the shoulders with the legs extended upwards towards the sky. The name Sarvangasana is derived from the Sanskrit words “sarva” meaning all or entire, and “ang” meaning body. This pose is often referred to as the “queen of all asanas” due to its numerous health benefits and its ability to rejuvenate the entire body.

How to perform Sarvangasana correctly?

To perform Sarvangasana correctly, follow these steps:

1. Lie flat on your back with your arms by your sides.
2. Inhale and lift your legs off the ground, bringing them perpendicular to the floor.
3. Use your hands to support your lower back as you lift your hips off the ground.
4. Slowly walk your hands up your back towards your shoulder blades, keeping your elbows close together.
5. Straighten your legs towards the sky, keeping them together and engaged.
6. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 5 minutes, breathing deeply and evenly.
7. To release the pose, slowly lower your legs back down to the ground and gently roll out of the pose.

What are the benefits of practicing Sarvangasana?

There are numerous benefits to practicing Sarvangasana regularly, including:

1. Improved circulation: By reversing the flow of blood in the body, Sarvangasana helps to improve circulation and oxygenation of the brain and other vital organs.
2. Thyroid stimulation: This pose stimulates the thyroid gland, which can help regulate metabolism and energy levels.
3. Calming the mind: Sarvangasana is known to have a calming effect on the mind, reducing stress and anxiety.
4. Strengthening the core: This pose strengthens the core muscles, including the abdominals and lower back.
5. Improved digestion: Sarvangasana can help improve digestion and relieve constipation by massaging the abdominal organs.
6. Relieving headaches: This pose can help alleviate tension headaches and migraines by increasing blood flow to the head.
7. Enhancing shoulder and neck flexibility: Sarvangasana stretches and strengthens the shoulders and neck, reducing tension and improving flexibility.

What are the contraindications of Sarvangasana?

While Sarvangasana offers many benefits, there are some contraindications to be aware of. It is not recommended for individuals with the following conditions:

1. Neck injuries: Those with neck injuries or cervical spine issues should avoid Sarvangasana, as it can put strain on the neck.
2. High blood pressure: Individuals with high blood pressure should avoid this pose, as it can increase blood pressure even further.
3. Menstruation: Women should avoid practicing Sarvangasana during menstruation, as it can disrupt the natural flow of blood.
4. Pregnancy: Pregnant women should avoid Sarvangasana, as it puts pressure on the abdomen and could potentially harm the fetus.
5. Glaucoma: Individuals with glaucoma should avoid this pose, as it can increase intraocular pressure.

What are some variations of Sarvangasana?

There are several variations of Sarvangasana that can be practiced to suit different levels of flexibility and experience. Some common variations include:

1. Supported Shoulder Stand: Place a folded blanket or yoga block under the shoulders for added support.
2. Half Shoulder Stand: Instead of lifting both legs straight up, bend one knee and extend the other leg towards the sky.
3. Legs Against the Wall: Perform Sarvangasana with your legs resting against a wall for added support and stability.
4. One-Legged Shoulder Stand: Lift one leg towards the sky while keeping the other leg bent and resting on the ground.

How to safely come out of Sarvangasana?

To safely come out of Sarvangasana, follow these steps:

1. Slowly lower your legs back down towards the ground, keeping them straight and engaged.
2. Release your hands from your lower back and gently roll out of the pose, one vertebra at a time.
3. Once your hips are back on the ground, extend your legs out in front of you and rest in Savasana (Corpse Pose) for a few breaths.
4. Take a moment to observe how your body feels after practicing Sarvangasana and allow yourself to relax and unwind.

In conclusion, Sarvangasana is a powerful yoga pose that offers a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits. By practicing this pose regularly and with proper alignment, you can experience improved circulation, thyroid stimulation, core strength, and stress relief. However, it is important to be aware of the contraindications and practice variations as needed to ensure a safe and effective practice. Remember to listen to your body, breathe deeply, and enjoy the rejuvenating effects of the Shoulder Stand pose.