Shoulder Stand — Sarvangasana
“Sarv” means all or entire in Sanskrit, and “anga” means limbs or parts of the body. So Sarvangasana translates as the all limbs pose, or the pose that benefits the entire body. Also known as the “Queen of all asanas”, the shoulder stand is one of the most important and beneficial poses in all of yoga. While this pose literally benefits the whole body from the toes to the top of the head, the pose also bestows tremendous psychological and energetic benefits. Sarvangasana is known to tranquilize the mind, and bring joy and confidence while helping to transmute lower energies.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Sarva = All. Anga = Limbs
Posture of All Limbs
Lie in a supine position, legs together, arms close to the body, align the entire body, and bring the head in line with the spine.
Lift the pelvis and lower back, roll the shoulders backward by moving the shoulder blades close to each other. Optionally the hands may be interlocked under the buttocks.
Lift the legs and slowly roll up by bending the legs and bringing the knees toward the face, shifting the torso into a vertical position. Support the spine with the palms on the lower back.
Slowly straighten the legs, bringing them into a vertical line with the torso.
Support the straightening of the spine with the hands, walking the palms closer towards the shoulders.
Carefully move the elbows toward each other to bring the upper arms in a parallel position. This ensures that the shoulder blades remain close to each other, thus protecting the upper spine and neck.
Emphasize on the verticality of the body by engaging the core muscles, buttocks and thighs, keeping the legs parallel and close together.
The head must not be moved throughout the entire performance to protect the neck from injury.
Fold the legs, whilst bringing the knees close to the face.
Carefully and slowly, roll down out of the posture, vertebra by vertebra. Either support the back with the palms, or place the arms on the ground and push down with the palms.
Care should be taken to keep the head on the ground after practice.
To free the neck and get a vertical body position a triple folded yoga mat or a big flat pillow may be placed under the shoulders. The head is placed on the floor.
A common variation is to lower the hips and to bring the legs further in the direction of the head. In this variation the back is kept at an angle, firmly supported by the hands.
– Stretches the shoulders and neck.
– Increases the blood flow to the brain.
– Stimulates the nerves passing through the neck to the brain.
– Tones the legs and buttocks, abdominal and reproductive organs.
– Drains stagnant blood and fluid from the lower part of the body, and increases circulation to these areas.
– Induces abdominal breathing.
– Balances the circulatory, digestive, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems.
– Stimulates the thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, and prostate gland.
– Activates the Throat Chakra.
– The rising of energies from the pelvis toward the throat and head relates to the sublimation of sexual and vital energies.
– As an inverted posture the so called “Queen of Asanas” has the legendary reputation of reversing time and bestowing youthfulness. The usual dripping of ambrosia (the subtle nectar of life) from Soma Chakra/ Luna (located in the area of the pallet) into the solar fire of Manipura Chakra is stopped by reversing the position of head and navel.
– Calms the brain and tranquilizes the mind.
– Bestows happiness, confidence, and joy.
– Relieves mental and emotional stress, irritation, shortness of temper, nervous breakdown, and fear.
– Helps clear psychological disturbances and relieve mild depression.
– Reduces fatigue and alleviates insomnia.
– Neck injury.
– Slipped discs.
– High blood pressure.
– Heart ailments.
– Thrombosis or impure blood.
– Enlarged thyroid, liver or spleen.
– Cervical spondylitis.
– Weak blood vessels in the eyes.
– Should be avoided during menstruation.
– Pregnancy: experienced women can practice until late stages of pregnancy. Unexperienced women should not take up the practice after becoming pregnant.