Sarvangasana – The Royal Pose of Shoulderstand

Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger rocks a shoulderstand…

“How do I love thee, let me count the ways.”  This is how Shakespeare might have talked about Sarvangasana had he practiced yoga.  In ancient texts, Shoulderstand is called a raja, or royal pose, because it is so beneficial for the body.  Some texts even go so far as to call it the disease killing posture!  It helps to change the way your entire endocrine system works, which is the system associated with the chakras, energetically, but also the entire hormonal cocktail that your body makes to keep you functioning at your best.  The pose is actually named after two Sanskrit words that mean ‘whole body parts posture.’

The Life Giving, Age Defying Shoulderstand

iyengar_shoulder_standShoulderstand can regulate the metabolism, helping to normalize the weight if it is too high or too low.  It increases the flow of the lymphatic cells (T-cells) responsible for fighting foreign invaders that try to make a host of your body.  By sending blood to the thymus (and endocrine gland located behind the heart) it boosts immunity.  It invigorates the brain by sending tons of oxygen rich blood to it, as well as the face including all the organs of the head (eyes, ears, nose, throat, scalp, etc.)  It is for this reason that it can keep you looking younger and from losing your hair as you age.  It also acts like nature’s free moisturizer, by improving the skin and the hormones in the body that keep you young.  It also changes the gravitational pull on the body – from downward to upward!

The posture circulates blood to the pelvic region, the spine, and removes stagnant blood from the legs so if you work at a job where you sit or stand all day, it can feel like heaven to practice.  Shoulderstand also improves the sex organs, so it is great for people who want a better sex life or are trying to conceive.

Most importantly, Shoulderstand held for three minutes can greatly reset the stress response in the body, and instill a calm, quiet mind, as well as a relaxed nervous system.  Yogis also practice this posture to draw the pranic energy of the body into the internal organs, and away from the surface of the body as a means to vivify the chakras and help encourage root chakra energy to rise from Mooladhara Chakra to the Crown of the Head, Sahasrara.

Modifying Your Pose

Sarvangasana can be practiced in modification too, since it isn’t always that easy to accomplish when you are first starting out.  You will want to use a double folded yoga blanket under the shoulders and neck, minimally, if you are not practicing the full posture, to make sure that the cervical bones (the small bones in the neck) are kept protected and out of the way of undue stress.

Tips When Practicing the Full Pose

If you are practicing the full Sarvangasana, work on getting your shoulders tucked underneath you as you line up your knees, hips and ankles.  Use your core strength to draw the navel in and up – this also keeps the belly from sagging as you age.  When you are ready, a full jalandhara bandha or chin lock can be practiced so that you receive the full benefits of stimulating the thyroid and parathyroid glands.  Following the release of shoudlerstand, roll down slow into Halasana (Plow Pose), and be sure to practice Matsyasana (Lord of the Fishes) to counteract the forward bending of the cervical spine.

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post from the authors of YOME. YOME aggregates and features a FREE collection of hundreds of yoga videos including meditation techniques that were posted by the best yoga teachers in the world. YOME enables you to combine a yoga practice within your personal routine. You can also create your own yoga channel so you can practice yoga poses wherever and whenever you want, without trying to make it to a specific class on time or rush through traffic. Connect with YOME on FacebookTwitterYouTube,LinkedIn, and Google+.

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