Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)

Shoulder Stand 1
Level: All levels

Alamba = a prop or support. Sa = with or accompanied by. Sarva = whole, all, complete. Anga = limb.

Salamba Sarvangasana can be quite challenging to begin with, especially if the back or shoulders are tight. It is, however, possibly the most important pose in yoga as, amongst other things, it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which calms and hydrates the body. If you only have time to do two poses, do Shirsasana (Head Stand) and Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand). If you only have time for one, do Sarvangasana.

Organizing the Pose

  1. Fold up a mat and stack up three blankets on top. Make the stack neat, with all the folded edges in a clean line. This will be going under the shoulders to act as a lift to protect the neck.
  2. Shoulder Stand preparation
    Lie back on the blanket so that the shoulders are on, but the head and neck are not. (See insert.)
  3. Either roll the legs overhead and go into Halasana (Plough Pose), or roll the hips up and bring the knees into the chest and the hands on the back.
  4. Roll the shoulders down and walk the hands up the back, lifting the ribs and opening the chest.
  5. Extend the legs up towards the ceiling. Hold this position anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes.
  6. Either continue on with other Halasana or Sarvangasana variations, or exhale and come down, using the arms to control yourself as you roll down through the back.
  7. Slide off the blankets towards the head until the shoulders come to the floor and the hips are raised on the blankets. Rest there for a few breaths.
  8. Roll over onto the right side and press yourself up.

Practice Points

  • Anchor down evenly through the upper arm bones.
  • Reach up strongly through the legs.
  • Soften and widen the buttocks.
  • Broaden and lift the back ribs.
  • Broaden the collarbones.
  • Soften and widen the chest, neck and throat.