Last week I taught a weekly yoga class in Norval a small town in Ontario. My class was all truly all levels. From an 8-year old trying yoga for the first time to 20 somethings, 30 somethings and older participants. Some of them were healthy, some came with injuries to their neck and shoulder and were recommended to try yoga by their physiotherapist. So I had to ensure everyone was taken care of so each participant got the maximum benefit of yoga while practicing safe. How can you not smile when you see these sweet participants 🙂
I offered variations of an amazing inversion to help everyone try it out. Did you know ? Inversions are an awesome way to get blood moving in the opposite direction and allow some rest for our heart.
Shoulder stand of sarvangasana is called the Queen of yoga postures and it is truly everything to your body. In Sanskrit,
Sarva = everything
Anga = limbs
As I started researching and reading up on what all the great masters had to say about shoulder stand, I was blown away.. so many reasons to practice shoulder stand. i’m surprised its not an integral part of all yoga.. Still do be careful when you practice shoulder stand. I offer a variation in this video that is safe to practice for anyone, including those who worry their neck may be compromised.
Here then are my 5 reasons to try out shoulder stand:
1. Relax and rejuvenate the heart. When you get upside down, you allow blood pooled in your feet to release. Oxygenated blood flows easily to the body, prevents blood from stagnating in the body. Your body finds it easier to take blood to the heart, brain and even your eyes. Your heart relaxes as it has less work to do and your heart rate drops.
2. Circulation. You are helping the lymphatic system by increasing circulation. Your lymph nodes get bathed in fresh lymph which simply charge and nourish your entire body.
3. Insomnia or low energy. Ever had trouble falling asleep at night? Try shoulder stand, its great for insomnia, if you practice before going to bed. Ever feel low in energy during the day? Then try this pose in the morning to regulate energy levels and give you an all-around pickup. interesting contradiction right, it can make you fall asleep and it can also wake you up. That’s yoga for you. all about balance.
4. Battling weight issues. This is an amazing fat loss pose. It increases metabolism. Your digestion gets stronger. ‘Agni’ the digestive fire is ignited in the abdomen. Your liver, spleen, pancreas & stomach operate efficiently removing toxins, and strengthen your digestion.
5. Allergies. Inversions help restore the immune system in balance. You might be surprised how this simple pose can reduce allergies that attack the immune system. Mainly because your immune system is strengthened and better able to safeguard your body against unwanted intruders, namely allergies 🙂
There are many other benefits of shoulder stand. These are just a few of the main ones.
Last words. My master says in The Sivananda Companion to Yoga:
The asanas in this cycle are mentally far more approachable than those in Headstand Cycle, for the simple reason that with your head face up on the floor, you can see what you are doing. This not only reduces your fear of pitching your body into new positions, but it also means that you can act as your own teacher, checking that your body is straight or your limbs are symmetrical. The cycle concentrates prana [energy] on the neck and upper spine area and this in turn brings great benefit to the lower back – since any work done at one end of the spine is automatically reflected in the other end.
Contraindications – Women should not practice shoulder stand during menstruation. Women in their first trimester of pregnancy should stay away from shoulder stand in their first trimester.. If you have neck injuries or shoulder pain, try my supported variation to keep your neck safe. More and more physiotherapists and osteopaths are recommending yoga to their clients. As always check with your health care practitioner before embarking on a yoga practice.
hope you enjoy my supported variation of shoulder stand. Have you tried it out? I’d love to hear from you..