Inner Balance with Shoulderstand-Salamba Sarvangasana

It is important to practice what is called inversions in yoga. Inversions are said to have many benefits, such as calming the nervous system, easing the mind, reversing blood flow which can help clear congestion on many levels in the body, and keep the skin healthy and young. Yogis of the past said inversions are the fountain of youth, defying gravity and all her pressures…

Cautions to practicing inversions will be high blood pressure at first, as they might increase blood pressure but later on one may find it helps if medicated, pregnancy if you are new to yoga, and common things like back pain or injury, shoulder injury or neck issues. These poses are not to be taken lightly when practicing. Make sure you know your body or ask your yoga teacher for help and advice.

This week’s pose is a moderate inversion, meaning it is somewhat of an all-level inversion as it can be easily modified until one is strong enough to hold themselves up. Practice for a few breaths at a time, and work your way to a nice 15-20 breath hold over time. As always, I gear these simple articles to those with a bit of experience, consult with a qualified teacher if you are unsure of doing this on your own.

The practice

Start at a wall if you are new to the shoulder stand practice, and practice the first few steps using the wall, otherwise skip the wall prep and continue from there.

  1. Lie down on your back with your shoulders on a thinly folded yoga blanket that is on top of your yoga mat, and your head off the blanket. Bring your sit bones to the base board of your wall and rest your legs up the wall, arms at your sides.
  2. Bend your knees to 90 degrees placing the soles of your feet on the wall.
  3. Press your feet into the wall to lift your hips so they are in line with your chest. Place your hands to your lower back. See if this is too difficult and decide if you want to go on.
  4. Keeping the knees bent, keep pressing your feet into the wall to bring the hips more in line with the spine, if you can do this, take one leg up in the air in a straight line from hip to ankle. A lot of times my students over extend the leg to far over their heads, so think leg towards the wall, not towards the top of your mat.
  5. If you can do this confidently, take the other leg off the wall and hold yourself in the inversion by walking your hands down your back towards your shoulders.  Keep lifting the hips, using your core and gluing the legs together as if they were one leg.
  6. Stare at the big toes, and keep the weight of your body on your shoulders, not neck, remember this is not neck stand, it is shoulder stand.
  7. Keep lifting the legs up, and stay for as many smooth breaths as you can.
  8. Lower the feet to the wall when you are ready, and slowly lower down to your mat with the legs up the wall to rest.
  9. For more advanced practitioners, feel free to practice away from the wall, taking the legs into halasana first, and then lifting them into shoulderstand, and reversing the process to come down.
  10. Take your time lowering, to avoid any back spasms, use your core and legs to help you.  Rest for a few mins after in savasana or legs up the wall if you like.
  11. Sequence this pose at the end of your practice or practice on its own.
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