Sarvāngāsana (shoulder stand) is known as the Mother of yoga postures.
The Mother creates happiness and health in the home—likewise, this posture creates happiness and health in the body.
This is why it is called Sarvāngāsana—sarvā means everything and angā means limbs. Therefore, it transliterates as the posture that is good for every aspect and every limb of the human being.Here are 10 specific benefits of practicing this particular pose every day:
1. It bathes the lymph nodes in fresh lymph by increasing the circulation around the lymphatic system. This nourishes the whole body.
2. Inverting the body from the neck up means that gravity increases the venous blood flow to the heart, brain and eyes. This relaxes the heart and decreases the heart rate, and it brings clarity to the mind and sight.
3. It lengthens the spinal nerves, which relieves tension in the head, neck and shoulders.
4. According to the authoritative text, Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iygenar states, “persons suffering from breathlessness, palpitation, asthma, bronchitis and throat ailments get relief from this posture.”
5. It is excellent for those suffering from thyroid disorders. Shoulder stand brings balance and regulates the hormone secretion of both the thyroid and parathyroid glands in the neck. This indirectly is very good for flexibility.
6. It soothes the nervous system. This is an excellent posture for those who suffer from stress, tension, anxiety (high blood pressure, only if it is taught by an expert yoga teacher) and shortness of temper.
7. It is excellent for sleep. Shoulder stand helps those who are suffering from insomnia.
8. It increases energy when practiced in the mornings. It lifts and sustains one’s energy levels dramatically when practiced every day. Therefore, it is especially good for those suffering from a fatigued body and mind.
9. It is excellent for fat loss. It increases the metabolism. It strengthens digestion by returning “agni” (fire) to the abdominal organs—liver, spleen, pancreas and stomach.
10. When done correctly shoulder stand tones the muscles of the gluteus, back, thighs and abdominals. This will benefit your balance and stability.
There are many other benefits of shoulder stand. These are just a few of the main ones. There are more than 1 hundred benefits to practice shoulder stand!
Women should not practice shoulder stand during menstruation. There are also contraindications for shoulder stands if you have neck pain or injury, so shoulder stand should only be practiced under the guidance of a good yoga teacher.
How to practice :
Lay flat on the floor with your arms alongside your body and your palms face-down. Bend your knees into your chest while exhaling and pressing down through your hands and arms until your toes are close to the ground behind your head. You should look as though you are in a seated forward bend—only upside down.
It’s important to position your arms under you and keep them shoulders-width apart. To do this, interlace your fingers together underneath you and shimmy the shoulders under you so you are resting on your shoulder blades to ensure proper alignment.
Now bend your elbows—keep your upper arm (shoulder to elbow) shoulders-width apart—and place your hands flat on your back. As you advance in the pose, your hands will be closer to your shoulder blades, and your legs will be straighter, stretching your hamstrings (back of the thigh). This will create an eventual 90-degree angle in your neck.
While holding the pose, concentrate on your breathing, pressing down through your upper arms and up through your legs and feet, and gently squeezing your inner thighs together. Make sure to check for symmetry, making sure legs are equal in length and the direction of your knees and feet are even and equal. If alignment is uneven, adjust accordingly. Beginners should bend knees into their foreheads and eventually work to straighten the legs out.
Come out very gently and slowly to the position, 1 leg after the other, or Bend the knees and straight your legs (as you came up to the pose) or for more advance students come out directly to bridge or supported bridge.
For students with neck injury, there is this variation – Supported Shoulder stand :
This variation is very good to undertake as a restorative pose, hold it for 3 or 4 minutes and relax:
“Realign, recharge, re-balance and invigorate your mind and body, whilst boosting your overall health and well-being“