Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Queen of Yoga Poses

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

The head remains firm in this inverted position and the supply of the blood to the head is regulated by the firm chinlock, this soothes the nerves and eases headaches.  In BKS Iyengar’s own words, “Due to the soothing effect of the pose on the nerves, those suffering from irritation, short-temper, nervous breakdown and insomnia are relieved.”
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 System
The 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 Toxins
The 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

I’m sure many of you know this already, but it is worth adding…During menstruation women are advised to avoid inversions. When the body is inverted, gravity causes the vessels supplying blood to the uterus to be partially blocked, and this can temporarily stop the flow. The energy of the body at this time in a woman’s cycle is moving down into the earth. Going upside down during the menses disturbs this natural rhythm and can result in a feeling of shakiness, disorientation, or nausea. During menstruation, it is important to honour your body by going with, rather than against, this natural flow.

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!


  1. Yoga is one traditional exercise method to cure digestion problem. regular yoga exercise surely help to treat digestion problem. Watch videos to learn more about Yoga Exercises for Digestive System. Yoga is traditional India exercise use to solve many health problems. Now USA, UK, Japan countries are also using this yoga exercise.

  2. I have also joined yoga classes and I am sure I will also be able to do these poses quite soon. I have noticed that right kind of clothing plays an important role in practicing yoga. That is why I have placed an order for alo yoga clothes from Eagerly waiting for the delivery now!

  3. If you are practicing at home, you must choose a personal space that is private and comfortable for your daily session. You can choose a quiet place anywhere in your home, where you feel at ease. Yoga mats on sale

  4. If you are trying to build your endurance and strength other less intense styles of yoga may be adequate as well. Best yoga mat eco friendly

  5. Yogic breathing in combination with biofeedback and other techniques of yoga help in lowering the blood pressure and reduces the necessity for medication for high blood pressure. Original site


  6. There are approximately forty-four major schools of Yoga and many others which also lay claim to being Yogic. Yoga Trainer