Shoulder Stand Pose
Sanskrit: Salamba Sarvangasana
1st Image of Maggie Anderson taken by Morayo Sayles
2nd Image courtesy of yogajournal.com
Shoulder Stand is one of my favorite poses. It’s a pose great for shifting the gravity within your body and circulating the blood flow in a new that our body doesn’t always receive. This allows for many health benefits. To name a few:
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
- Stimulates the thyroid and prostate glands and abdominal organs
- Stretches the shoulders and neck
- Tones the legs and buttocks
- Improves digestion
- Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
- Reduces fatigue and alleviates insomnia
- Therapeutic for asthma, infertility, and sinusitis
I find an inner peace while in this pose. The excellent counterpose, Fish Pose, is also my favorite. I think this is a great pose for around Thanksgiving as it triggers your Thyroid into action that will therefore then work on your metabolism and digestion (especially if you move into Plow pose from this pose). Play with works best for you and your body and never go further than what works for your body today. You do not want to injure you neck so please take care and listen to the directions below. Honor the wisdom of your body always.
Directions on how to come into the pose:
(This can also be started against a wall for beginners, such as working with Legs-Up-The-Wall pose.) Set yourself up with a blanket thick enough to allow for your neck to have no pressure. So your head and neck are aligned and the top of your shoulders are at the very edge of the blanket. Fold a firm blanket into rectangles measuring about 1 foot by 2 feet, and stack them. You may need more than one. If you do not have a blanket, use your mat and even place a mat over the blanket. This will help your elbows from slipping while in the pose. From here, lay down on the blanket so that shoulders are parallel to each other on the blanket and/or mat with your head on the floor.
Bend your knees and begin to raise your legs up in the air. As you do this you will begin to curl your body, pelvis first and raise them legs up in the air. All while fully supporting your body with your hands on your lower back. The weight is in the shoulders and arms, not the neck or head. If you notice the weight in the neck or head, come out of the pose and readjust yourself. As you raise up, straighten your legs as much as possible and notice if your legs are angled or straight up. The goal is to get them straight up. Bring your shoulder blades in towards the center of the back. Allow the weight to fall into the hands only.
As you progress you can move the sternum closer to chin. Eventually your upper back will be in alignment with the torso and legs. Go slow. Take your time getting into this pose. Listen to your body always. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to even up to five minutes.
Then slowly begin to lower down bending your knees and then rounding your back, one vertebrae at a time roll on out flat on the floor. Nice and easy. Immediately go into a counter pose such as the Fish pose.
When not to do this pose or to modify/Contraindications:
Keep in mind this pose is considered an intermediate pose. So please take it slow and go one step at a time. Try Plow pose first to see how that feels on your body. Other things to consider to not practice this pose is if you have Diarrhea, a Headache, High blood pressure, Menstruation (a controversial idea, so use your intuition and listen to your body during menstruation), Neck injury, Pregnancy (If you are experienced with this pose, you can continue to practice it late into pregnancy. However, it’s not recommended you start this for the first time after you become pregnant. Your body is not ready or prepared.)
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