Alamba means support, Sarvanga ( Sarva is all or whole and Anga is limb ) meaning the entire body or all limbs. The whole body benefits from the support of the pose.
1. Lay flat on your back with the legs actively together with the arms by the side with the palms facing down.
2. The last part of the exhale lifts the legs about 10 degrees as the inhale comes and brings the legs & hips over the head. When beginning, one can start with the legs bent.
3. Place the hands as low down the back as possible with all parts of the hand supporting.
4. Beginners can can support the bowl of the pelvis and work on lifting the legs from over the head to where ever is allowable at the time.
5. Others can raise the legs which are fully toned so that one day the ankles, knees, hips and shoulders are in one straight line. This may take a few months. 🙂
6. Press the back of the head back slightly so that the chin is away from the chest, this allows for the natural curvature to remain in the cervical spine. ( see photo below )
7. This keeps pressure off C7 ( Cervical Vertebra ).
8. The chest is coming towards the chin as you stand on the shoulder feet.
9. After being up for about 10 breaths, the hands can lower further down the back, making sure the elbows don’t collapse out to the side, elbows stay in which keeps the shoulders broad.
10. Any neck issues, you can do the posture with support of a padded cushion so that the shoulders are off the ground which will take any pressure on the neck.
11. Soft gaze up the middle of the legs towards the feet.
12. Keep action in the inner legs so that the ball of the foot receives energy to maintain lift.
13. You can Dorsal Flex the feet ( turn the toes back towards the shins ) for 10 breaths, then Plantar flex the feet ( point the toes away ) for another 10.
14. Keep the Bandhas ( internal locks of energy ) engaged for full support and integration.
15. Stay in the pose at least 25 breaths.
16. There are a number of variations from this position, but for now we will come out from this classic form.
17. Lower the legs back over the head keeping them well toned. Release the arms and place them at full length back on the mat with the palms facing down.
18. Slowly place the spine back on the mat, one vertebra at a time with the straight legs close to the body. Place the legs all the way back to the mat with the heels being last to touch.
19. Try not to tense the shoulders, keep the face soft, instead using the abdominal muscles, especially the Transverse Abdominis.
20. We will look at Shoulderstand variations in coming blog posts.
21. Remember that learning directly from the teacher is the best way to safely participate in the posture.
Great importance is placed on this posture by the ancient Sages.
According to B.K.S Iyengar, Shoulderstand strives for the harmony and happiness of the entire human system. There are several endocrine organs or ductless glands in the human body which bathe in blood, absorb the nutrients from the blood and secrete hormones for the proper functioning of a balanced and well developed body and brain. If the glands fail to function properly, the hormones are not produced as they should be and and the body starts to deteriorate. Amazingly enough many of the postures have a direct effect on the glands and help them to function properly. Shoulderstand does this for the thyroid and parathyroid glands which are situated in the neck region. 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. The change in bodily gravity also affects the abdominal organs so that the bowels move freely and constipation vanishes.