Published on May 17th, 2016 | by Catherine Tingey0
Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)
Yoga purists might argue that any well-rounded class or private session must involve an inversion.
I’m of a more moderate opinion – inversions should be practiced with reverence and respect, and only by students with at least an intermediate to advanced practice. Inversions CAN cause injury.
The ancient yogis believed inversions were a fountain of youth, allowing prana (energy) to reverse its downward course through the body and revert up through the higher chakras, namely the crown of the head.
More simply, inversions reverse the effects of gravity, but they may do so at a cost. In Shoulder Stand, a great deal of weight is placed on the tiniest bones in the spine – the cervical spine – and students who spend excessive amounts (5 minutes +) in these poses, can develop all sorts of neck issues, as well as an overdeveloped thoracic spinal curve – otherwise known as kyphosis, the opposite of lordosis.
For students with tender necks, I like mini inversions like Dolphin at the Wall or Legs Up The Wall.
If you are new to Shoulder Stand, please proceed under the guidance of a certified yoga instructor and take the supported version.
I like to stack 2-3 folded blankets at the bottom of the mat. Fold the mat over the blankets to provide a grippy surface. This keeps the arms in place. A strap can also be used, but is a bit cumbersome getting in and out of.
Lay on the blankets with your head resting on the floor, tips of shoulders aligned with blanket edge, knees bent, feet on the floor near the buttocks (as in Bridge Pose). Arms by your side, palms face down.
Hug the knees into the chest, then begin to curl the pelvis towards your face, placing the palms on the low back for support.
Extend one leg at a time, reaching through the heels to the sky.
WORK IN THE POSE
Tuck the tailbone and spin the tops of the thighs slightly inward.
Hug the elbows into the side of the body to open the chest and shoulders.
Remain in the pose for 30 seconds. Gradually you can build to holds of 1 minute.
Come out slowly by bending the knees to the chest, engaging the low belly, and rolling the spine out along the mat.
- Calms the mind, sharpens mental focus and may alleviate mild depression
- Improves digestion
- Stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands
- Relieves varicose veins
- High blood pressure
- Detached retina or glaucoma
- Neck injuries, or any issues with the cervical spine
- Large breasts can restrict the airway by pressing on the throat so watch for this