There are many yoga practitioners who shy away from adding this basic yoga posture into their regular practice sessions. Granted, it is not an easy posture to achieve, however, it is deemed the Queen of asanas, and well worth the effort as it boosts health for the whole body.
The Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana)
Sarvangasana means ‘all’ and ‘organ’ or ‘body part’ in Sanskrit. When translated, it means ‘full body pose’. This is an effective description of this posture because done correctly, it boosts the healing potential of the whole body. Within this posture, harmony and happiness are possible. It is one of the basic yoga poses but it is challenging. Learn it in various stages. In the first instance, make sure the spine is fully supported by placing the hands on the back of your hips. This provides a solid foundation. Try unsupported shoulderstand only when ready.
Regular practice provides so many benefits. It is an exhilarating pose and can help to alleviate feelings of stress and depression. It will also reduce muscular tension stored deep within the shoulders. All too often, people try to reach the extended pose before they are fully ready and when the body is not strong or flexible enough. If this is done, correct alignment will not be reached.
The Benefits of the Basic Yoga Shoulderstand are Far-Reaching
- The shoulderstand can improve digestion. This inverted posture changes gravity benefiting the bowels. This means it improves a sluggish digestive system and eases constipation.
- Practicing this posture can reduce the symptoms of the common cold. Blood supply increases to the head helping to relieve headaches and nasal congestion.
- Regular practice of this posture can help to balance the heart, reducing strain on it and improving blood flow to the chest and neck. It also improves the respiratory system.
- The immune system is important. This posture helps ward off ill-health and provides a much-needed boost to the immune function while stimulating the lymphatic system. It also aids the parasympathetic nervous system reducing irritability.
- The pose aids greater flexibility while strengthening the abdomen, the legs, and the upper body too. It also provides a wonderful stretch to the upper back muscles, neck, and shoulders.
- For those struggling with their weight or, if there are problems with the endocrine system, the shoulderstand helps improve hormone production, balances the thyroid and hypothalamus glands.
- Due to the inverted posture, facial skin has an increase of blood flow, improving complexion and helping to reduce any wrinkles.
- The shoulderstand promotes deep sleep essential for health and well-being.
It takes time to build up the strength and suppleness to remain in this posture so, it’s important to stay for only as long as is comfortable. Once you have managed to achieve the correct alignment and your body is strong enough, remain in the maximum pose for up to 3-minutes. In time, you can extend this to 10-minutes. Always remember to come down slowly, rolling the body as you do so. This will reduce the strain on the back.
There are always contraindications for every yoga pose and care must be taken practicing the yoga shoulderstand. If you have cardiovascular disease, a slipped disc, cervical spondylitis, detached retina, high blood pressure or are menstruating, please avoid this posture. The most important thing to consider is that the shoulderstand is a work in progress. It may take time to achieve properly but, with a consistent approach, all the many benefits will be yours.