Sarvangasana - The Shoulderstand

Asana practice in Yoga Meditation is quite different from that of modern yoga studios. Sarvangasana, the Shoulderstand is described here for those participating in Yoga Mentoring with Radhika Shah-Grouven.

Sarvangasana is a very advanced pose and you should try it only after you have mastered Halasana. It is an important asana because it completely transforms the energy flow in the body. Reversing the energy flow is an important step leading to higher states of meditation. 

Care must be take to practice this posture correctly. Incorrectly practiced the Shoulderstand can cause serious physical injuries of the neck and shoulder as well as agitate the nervous system and subtle energy channels of the body. This pose gets the heart pumping which makes it a strenuous pose. You should know your own limits. If you are not sure seek the guidance of your teacher.

Sarvangasana variation 1:

In this variation you first assume the position of Halasana, the Plough and then go in to Sarvangasana, the Shoulderstand.

Lie on the back with legs together, flat on the floor. Place the arms along the sides of the body with the palms on the floor.

Inhaling, raise both legs until they are 90 degrees to the floor. Do not bend the knees. Keep the shoulders, arms and hands relaxed. Do not press the arms against the floor while lifting the legs. 

Now raise the hips off the floor, keeping the legs straight and together. Extend the feet beyond the head until the legs are parallel to the floor. Allow gravity to do the work for you, let the weight of the legs gently fall to the floor.

Stretch your back and legs completely until the toes are flat on the floor behind the head. 

Inhaling, raise both legs until they are 90 degrees to the floor. Do not bend the knees.

Bend the elbows and place the hand as close to the shoulders as possible, with the fingers pointing toward the small of the back and the elbows firmly on the floor.

Stretch the legs and hips upward towards the ceiling. 

Press the breastbone against the chin. 

Breathe normally, hold this pose for 30 seconds or as long as is comfortable.

Exhaling slowly lower the hips and return the legs to the perpendicular position. Continue exhaling as you lower the legs to the floor. 

You may want to rest in Savasana, the Corpse position for a few minutes. 

Sarvangasana variation 2

In this variation you directly assume the pose of the Shoulder Stand without going in to Halasana. 

Lie on the back with legs together, flat on the floor. Place the arms along the sides of the body with the palms on the floor.

Inhaling, raise both legs until they are 90 degrees to the floor. Do not bend the knees.

Keep the shoulders, arms and hands relaxed. Do not press the arms against the floor while lifting the legs. 

Now slowly lift the hips, middle and upper spine off the floor, until only the shoulders rest on the floor. Do not use the strength in the arms or swing your legs, hips and back in to this pose.

Bend the elbows and place the hand as close to the shoulders as possible, with the fingers pointing toward the small of the back and the elbows firmly on the floor.

Stretch the legs and hips upward towards the ceiling. 

Press the breastbone against the chin. 

Breathe normally, hold this pose for 30 seconds or as long as is comfortable.

Exhaling slowly lower the hips and return the legs to the perpendicular position. Continue exhaling as you lower the legs to the floor. 

You may want to rest in Savasana, the Corpse position for a few minutes. 

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