When it comes to yoga, shoulder stand pose is a staple of many practices. This pose helps to increase strength and flexibility, as well as develop balance, concentration and even a sense of relaxation.
How to do the Shoulder Stand Pose
To come into shoulder stand pose, or Sarvangasana, start by lying on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms resting at your sides. On an inhale, press down into the feet and lift the hips up, so that the thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Once the hips are at their highest point, thread the arms underneath, slide the shoulderblades down your back, and clasp the hands together. To ensure you are properly supported, draw the elbows in towards each other, allowing the head and neck to rest comfortably on the mat.
Stay in the pose for up to a minute, then on an exhale press down into the elbows and feet, engaging the core, and slowly lower the spine back down to the floor. This pose is a valuable addition to any yoga practice – however, individuals with high blood pressure, or any neck and shoulder issues should avoid the position.
How to make the Shoulder Stand Pose More Accessible
A lot of people find the traditional Shoulder Stand Pose to be difficult to access. If balancing in the pose is proving to be a challenge, you can have the option of placing a bolster behind the shoulders, so that the weight is supported. You can also place a block underneath your tailbone for extra elevation.
Additionally, the pose can be modified to a supported shoulder stand by bringing the feet in close to the wall, tucking the toes in, and only keeping the shoulder blades lifted off the ground. This variation takes the weight off the shoulders, reducing neck compression, and making it easier for beginners to get into the pose.
Benefits of the Shoulder Stand Pose
By finding our balance in the Shoulder Stand Pose we are able to give ourselves a moment to pause and notice the sensations we experience in the physical body and the emotions that emerge. On a physical level, this pose helps to strengthen the legs, torso and arms, as well as release tension in the neck and shoulders; while the inversion helps to support the lymphatic system, relieving stress and fatigue.
Shoulder stand pose also offers access to a mental and emotional reset – by challenging our sense of balance and equilibrium we can learn to refine our feeling of overall stability and confidence on and off the mat.
So whether you’re a yoga newbie or an experienced practitioner, find your strength, challenge your balance and experience the liberation of this powerful inversion.