Supported Shoulder Stand or Salamba Sarvangasana is an excellent exercise to promote strength in the entire body. Salamba means ‘with support’, Sarva means ‘whole’, and Anga means ‘limbs’.
Supported Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
This Asana can be employed as a stand-alone pose and is quite similar to a headstand, the difference being that your body rests on your shoulders.
Whether you hold this pose for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, the duration of this pose is irrelevant as long as you can perform Salamba Sarvangasana with the proper technique and posture.
Lie on the mat with your hands beside your torso and bend your knee, so that the heels are near the sitting bones.
Push your feet against the floor and raise them so that your thighs are in front of your torso. Curl your pelvis so that your torso is against the floor and your knees are close to your face and bend the elbows so that they are close to the body. Place the palms of your hands on the back of your torso.
Now that your back is supported, bring your pelvis over the shoulder. Your legs should be extended and positioned perpendicular to the floor.
Align the torso and legs by pressing your heels together towards the ceiling. Your entire body should be supported by your neck and shoulders as you come to complete the pose. Hope this pose for as long as you want, making sure you are comfortable.
As you come back to starting position, bring your knees towards your torso and slowly roll out into a lying position.
Muscles Engaged: Upper back, shoulders, arms, legs, and core. This pose opens up the chest and stretches the neck.
Single Leg Shoulder Stand
Modification: After performing step 2, bring one leg over your head so that the toes are on the floor and your knee is close to your face. The other leg should be stretched up and out towards the ceiling. Your entire body should be supported by your neck and shoulders.
Salamba Sarvangasana has shown to bring about numerous benefits to the mind and body.
Some of the added benefits are the following:
- Strengthens upper body
- The gravitational pull promotes digestion.
- The circulation of blood flow during the shoulder stand is directed to the thyroid gland, which helps to regulate the inherent hormone production.
- The inverted position enhances the respiratory system and improves the circulation of oxygen through the heart, chest, and neck.
- Clears the nasal system and reduces the risk of developing common colds.
- Soothes the parasympathetic nervous system and helps to control emotions of anger and irritation.
- Improved circulation also reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
- Promotes flexibility
Supported shoulder stand is recommended for individuals suffering from:
- Menstrual problems
- Varicose Veins
If you are pregnant, make sure to consult your doctor before engaging in different forms of exercise to ensure that there will be no risks to your pregnancy.
It is best to avoid the shoulder stand if you are experiencing any of the following conditions:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Have a neck injury
- Have a detached retina
- Have glaucoma
- Cardiovascular disease
- Have cervical spondylitis
- Have slipped discs
Cool down and relax the muscles with a gentle Savasana to bring your body back to normal.
Some things to remember:
Beginners, feel free to use the support of a wall or a beam as you master this pose. Start with trying to hold the pose for 30 seconds and then gradually increase the time as you advance.
Make sure to displace the pressure on the shoulders and upper arms, not on the back and especially not on the head.
Updated by Siya Rajan on 05/26/2018