I’m delighted so many of you enjoyed reading the benefits of Headstand (Sirsasana). As promised here are the benefits of Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana).
1. Soothes Nerves and eases Headaches
2. Relieves Common Cold
Again it is the chinlock and firm head position in this inverted position that regulates the blood supply to the head thus relieving sinus blockages and headaches.
3. Stretches & Strengthens your Body
Shoulderstand strengthens the upper body, legs and abdomen; opens the chest and stretches the neck, shoulders and upper back muscles whilst improving the flexibility of your upper spine.
4. Improves the functioning of the Thyroid and parathyroid glands
Many asanas have a direct effect on the glands and help them function properly. Sarvangasana does this for the thyroid and parathyroid glands, which are located in the neck region. The ample supply of blood (due to the firm chinlock) increases the glands efficiency in maintaining the body and brain in good balance.
5. Alleviates Asthma, Bronchitis, Throat ailments, Breathlessness and Palpitations
Since the body is inverted the venous blood flows to the heart by force of gravity, without any strain. Healthy blood is allowed to circulate around the neck and chest. As a result, people suffering from breathlessness, palpitation, asthma, bronchitis and throat ailments get relief.
6. Improves Bowel movements & treats Haemorrhoids
The change in gravitational pull on the body affects the abdominal organs so that the bowels move freely and constipation is relieved.
7. Alleviates Urinary disorders, regulates Menstrual cycle, helps treat Hernia
This pose is recommended for urinary disorders and uterine displacement, menstrual trouble and hernia.
8. Strengthened Immune SystemThe lymphatic system is a closed pressure system and has one-way valves that keep lymph moving towards the heart, when one turns upside down, the entire lymphatic system is stimulated, thus strengthening your immune system.
9. Improves Digestion
When you allow the effects of gravity to be reversed on your digestive organs, you will help to move stuck material, release trapped gases, as well as improve blood flow to the all important digestive organs — increasing nutrient absorption and delivery to your cells.
10. Efficient removal of ToxinsThe lymphatic system is responsible for waste removal, fluid balance, and immune system response (think rubbish dump system). This network of nodes and fluids help to remove waste products from your blood. When you flip onto your head you will be directly stimulating your lymphatic system and thereby helping to remove toxins from your body.
The King needs his Queen
You may practise Shoulderstand alone, but Headstand should always be followed by Shoulderstand. The king needs his Queen, and Headstand needs the balance and calm that comes with Shoulderstand.
What does BKS Iyengar himself say about Shoulderstand?
“The importance of Sarvangasana cannot be over-emphasised. It is one of the greatest boons conferred on humanity by our ancient sages. Sarvangasana is the mother of asanas. It is a panacea for most common ailments.”
What’s in a name?
Classical Shoulderstand’s full title is Salamba Sarvangasana. In Sanskrit Salamba means ‘propped up’ and Sarvanga means ‘all the limbs’.
Inversions while Menstruating
Shoulderstand is not a pose I would recommend you practise at home until you have been safely introduced to it by your teacher. Your teacher should let you know when they feel you are ready to practise this pose at home. Initially, you need a well-trained eye to ensure you are practising this pose safely and correctly.People suffering from high blood pressure, detached retina, glaucoma, hernias, cardiovascular disease, cervical spondylitis, slipped discs or diarrhoea should not practice shoulder stand.
Also please be advised that you should have support under the shoulders & elbows as this helps keep your neck/shoulder area safe. Done correctly, you should not feel any pressure in the head, ears, eyes or throat.
My take on Shoulderstand
A whiplash injury from when I was 13 years old left me with a delicate, stiff neck and shoulders…hence this pose has been a work in progress for me for years! I say this in the hope it will encourage you to persevere in seeking a solution to any problems you may encounter in your own yoga practise. Shoulderstand is a potent pose with huge benefits and well worth the effort.
I practise it now without dread. Quite the opposite in fact! After all the hard work my brain feels bright and yet calm. I feel vital, balanced and refreshed afterwards. This is not a pose that came easily to me, and yet it is now one of my absolute favourites! Stick at it. Tell your teacher if you feel strain. Listen to your body. Enjoy!