How To Do Sarvangasana-Steps, Benefits And Precautions

Meaning of Shoulder Stand Pose

  • Shoulder Stand Pose is also known as Sarvangasana.
  • Sarvangasana is a Sanskrit word.
  • Sarvangasana is pronounced as ‘sar-van-GAHS-anna’. 
  • Sarva means ‘’whole’, ‘all’ or ‘entire’, the word anga means ‘limbs’, ‘parts’, ‘organs’ or ‘members and asana means ‘ yoga pose’.
  • Sarvangasana is good for the entire body. It drains stagnant blood from the legs and abdominal organs thus good for the functions and health of the entire body.
  • Sarvangasana is known by other names too viz. ‘shoulder stand pose’, Salamba Sarvangasana (supported shoulder stand pose), and the panphysical pose.

What is a Shoulder stand pose-Sarvangasana?

  • The shoulder stand pose is an inverted advanced yoga asana.
  • One of the most important benefits of the pose is to tone and activates the thyroid, parathyroid, and thymus glands.
  • The pose improves respiration and massages the organs concerned with digestion, elimination, and reproduction and good for various systems of the body. In fact, regulates all the systems of the body.
How To Do Sarvangasana- Steps, Benefits And Precautions

Shoulder stand pose introduction

The article is being presented before you after lots of research and discussion with many important yoga experts and teachers. Besides this, I am also sharing my personal experience of yoga over the last 20 years. You will get here to know what Sarvangasana is; how to do it; what are its benefits and precautions. The easily explained steps, benefits, precautions, images, and videos of Sarvangasana will help you to understand the yoga pose technically right thereby extracting maximum benefits of it.

How to do Shoulder Stand Pose step by step

Though, it is not so simple and easy as it seems to be. However, its simpler step-by-step technique has been mentioned below.

  1. Lie flat on your back with both legs straight and together.
  2. Slowly raise your legs at 90 degrees so that the legs, abdomen, and chest form a straight line.
  3. Put your palms on your back for support. In the final position, the chin should touch the chest.
  4. Maintain the pose as long as you feel comfortable.
  5. Slowly bring your buttock down followed by back and legs.
  6. Do 2-3 rounds.

Mistakes to avoid

Don’t do the asana too quickly. It should be done slowly with patience.

  • Raising the legs quickly may lead to breaking or strain in the neck.
  • Don’t raise the head off the floor throughout the entire practice.
  • The chest should be pressed against the chin but without straining the neck.
  • The chin should not be pressed towards the chest; in fact, the chest should be pressed towards the chin.
  • The asana should be practiced as per the suitability of the body. If the body is not prepared, it shouldn’t be performed as it may cause harmful results.

Breathing, Awareness, and Duration

While raising or lowering the legs, the breath should be maintained either inside or outside. Breathe slowly and deeply in the final stage. Awareness should be in smooth raising and lowering the legs. Initially, it should be performed for 30 seconds for a month. After then, the duration may be increased gradually. It can be performed for up to 3 to 5 minutes under the guidance of a yoga expert.

Muscular movement

The various muscles, which are involved are Splenius capitis, Splenius cervicis, Rhomboids, Posterior deltoid, Infraspinatus, Trapezius, Triceps, Obliquus capitis superior, Rectus capitis posterior minor, Rectus capitis posterior major, Obliquus capitis inferior, Interspinales cervicis, Semispinalis capitis (cut), Splenius capitis (cut), Longissimus capitis, Hamstrings, Gluteus maximus, Gluteus medius, Latissimus dorsi and Quadriceps

How the different schools of yoga  practice Shoulder Stand Pose

There are some variations in different schools of yoga while practicing Sarvangasana.

  • Iyengar yoga: In the Iyengar school of yoga, the entire body in a straight and vertical line.
  • Vinyasa yoga: It is similar to Iyengar yoga.
  • Ashtanga yoga: It is similar to the technique mentioned above.
  • Baba Ramdev yoga: It is the same as the technique mentioned above but the chin is not so much pressed against the chest.
  • Art of living: It is similar to Baba Ramdev yoga.
  • Power yoga: Main focus is given on stretching the posture.
  • Hot yoga: It is similar to power yoga but more strenuous in nature.
  • Satyananda yoga: It is similar to the technique mentioned above.
  • Bikram yoga: Here the body seems to be more straight and to a greater extent, it is similar to Iyengar yoga.

20 health benefits of shoulder stand pose

Sarvangasana is full of benefits. Some of the important benefits of Sarvangasana are given below.

  1. Prevent aging process: The practice of the shoulder stand pose helps to maintain youthfulness and rejuvenate an aging body.
  2. Thyroid and parathyroid glands: This is the best yoga pose for the health of the thyroid and parathyroid glands thus prevent a person from many diseases and disorders.
  3. Bodyweight: The practice of the pose controls metabolism by improving the efficiency of the thyroid gland thus main body weight. The pose helps to maintain body weight by normalizing the endocrine system.
  4. Balances endocrine glands: It helps to balances the entire endocrine system thus good for all the systems, which are dependent on hormones viz. the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, and reproductive systems. Sarvangasana integrates all the body systems, improving health and removing disease.
  5. Brain health: It ensures the proper supply of blood to the brain.
  6. Bone growth: Sarvangasana directly impacts the parathyroid glands helps to ensure normal bone growth and regeneration and also prevents premature ossification (hardening) of the bones.
  7. Neck ache & headache: The bending of the spine at the neck region ensures to prevent neck pain and headache. It also ensures the proper flow of oxygen and blood to this region.
  8. Abdominal breathing: The pressure of the chin against the chest in the final pose forces the practitioner to breathe abdominally.
  9. Asthmatics: The practice of the yoga pose is beneficial for asthmatic patients.
  10. Blood pressure: It helps to reduce blood pressure by acting on the carotid sinuses in the neck.
  11. Piles: It is an effective yoga pose to treat piles as it ensures to drain accumulated blood from the pile’s region. Pile patients should rhythmically contract and relax the anal muscles so that the stagnant blood easily removes.
  12. Varicose vein: The pose also ensures to drain stagnant blood of this region and gives relief to the patient.
  13. Diabetes: Diabetic patients should perform it religiously as the asana has great say for the overall functioning of the endocrine gland.
  14. Reproductive organs: It is good for the health of testes, gonads and ovaries, and other sexual organs of males and females.
  15. Sexual diseases: The asana helps to give relief from menstrual, menopausal, hydrocele, leucorrhea, spermatorrhea, etc.
  16. Hair fall: It nourishes the follicles of hair.
  17. Wrinkles: Wrinkles and spots on the face are also reduced by the improved blood supply.
  18. Facial complexion: It also helps to improve the facial complexion
  19. Throat and nose ailments: The practice of the pose helps to eliminate and prevent various types of throat and nose ailments
  20. Mind relaxation: It is said that the shoulder stand pose is one of the excellent yoga poses for refreshing and rejuvenating the mind. Thus, it also keeps you away from stress and tension.

Shoulder stand pose contraindications

Some of the few precautions/limitations of Sarvangasana are:

  • Sarvangasana should not be performed by those who have weak hearts
  • High blood pressure
  • Excessive enlarged thyroid
  • Weak blood vessels in the eyes
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Cerebral thrombosis
  • Excessive impure blood
  • Severely constipated condition
  • Slipped discs
  • Feeling physically tired
  • Illness
  • Fever
  • During menstruation
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Pregnancy

Beginner’s tip

It’s not possible for everyone to practice the pose as mentioned above. In such cases, it is better to start by bending the legs. Raise the trunk to the vertical position by pushing the lower back with the hands and arms and keeping the legs bent. Try to press the chest with your chin. After performing the same for a certain period, go ahead with the actual Sarvangasana.

Shoulder Stand Pose sequence

Preparatory pose

  • Sarvangasana should be practiced either at the beginning or at the end of the asana program.
  • Surya namaskara
  • Shavasana)
  • Tadasana

Follow-up / counterpose

  • Bhujangasana
  • Ushtrasana
  • Chakrasana
  • Ardh Chakrasana
  • Supta vajrasana
  • Ardha Ushtrasana
  • Matsyasana
  • Halasana

Top 10 facts of Shoulder stand pose

Here, we will mention the point to be remembered, tips, and facts regarding Sarvangasana.

  1. It is one of the best yoga poses to be practiced for general health well-being.
  2. This is one of the few yoga poses, which directly impacts thyroid and parathyroid glands.
  3. If you practice only asanas, then it is best to practice Sarvangasana in the beginning as it ensures awareness and wakefulness throughout the asana program.
  4. If somebody practices pranayama and meditation after asana, Sarvangasana should perform at the end.
  5. While bringing the legs down, it should touch the floor in the same way that a falling leaf would touch the ground.
  6. Instead of keeping the legs vertical, they may be kept slightly inclined.
  7. There shouldn’t be gaps between the legs throughout the practice.
  8. There is a myth that it shouldn’t be practiced by children.
  9. Lots of research is being conducted on Sarvangasana.
  10. It is known as the mother of all asana.

The science behind Shoulder Stand Pose

The chest should be pressed against the chin, but without straining the neck. This ensures proper blood flow into the thyroid region. The legs should be vertical and straight yet they should be relaxed and tension-free so that proper drainage of blood happens in the head region.

Video of Shoulder Stand Pose

  • The video of Sarvangasana has been made in a very simple and easy way to help to understand the practitioners.
  • It has been developed after the discussion with many yoga experts and teachers.
  • Extensive research has also been carried out while making the video.

Modification and variations

  • Padma Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Lotus Pose)
  • Niralamba Sarvangasana (Unsupported Shoulder Stand Pose)

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