SHOULDER STAND (salamba sarvangasana)

SHOULDER STAND (salamba sarvangasana)

Benefits
1. Calms the brain, nervous system and helps relieve stress
2. Improves digestion
3. Tones the legs, buttocks, back and core muscles
4. Stretches the shoulders and improves flexibility of upper spine
5. Massages and stimulates the thyroid and prostate glands
6. Massages abdominal organs and improves digestion
7. Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
8. Flushes mucous from the lungs

Contra-indications
• High blood pressure
• Eye or inner ear infection
• Neck or back problems
• Heavy period of menstruation
• Pregnancy
• DiarrheaSalamba Sarvagasana is considered an intermediate to advanced posture. If you are new to Yoga, we recommend you start with the beginner variations suggested at the end and then gradually work your way towards the full variation

Step by Step
(sah-LOM-bah sar-van-GAHS-anna)
salamba = with support (sa = with alamba = support)
sarva = all
anga = limb
1. Having a support under your shoulders can create more freedom and ease for your neck in Salamba Sarvagasana. Therefore, fold and stack a couple of firm blankets large enough to support the width and depth of your shoulders. A sticky mat then placed over the blankets will help the upper arms stay in place while inverting. As you lie on the blanket support, position your shoulders on the blankets so your neck and head drape and rest on the floor (your 7th cervical vertebra, or the largest boney point on the back of the neck, should still be on the blankets). Lay your arms on the floor alongside your torso, bend your knees, and contract abdominal muscles. As you exhale, press your arms against the floor so your feet, knees and back lift from the floor. As your back keeps lifting, place your hands on your lower back as you draw your thighs into the front torso. Make sure you are supporting your back with the whole palm and not just with thumbs and index fingers
2. Continue supporting your lower back as you draw the elbows toward each other. You should feel the back of your upper arms on the blanket. Then, raise your pelvis more so the thighs can lift to horizontal over the shoulders. With little or no weight on the lower neck, lightly turn the head side to side to increase ease and space in the mid and upper neck region. If the neck feels comfortable, walk your hands up your back (toward the floor) without letting the elbows slide outwards. Move your pelvis more over your shoulders listening to how the neck feels
3. Bring your feet and knees together. As you inhale, lift your bent knees toward the ceiling, bringing your thighs into a perpendicular line with your torso. As your knees remain bent, draw your tailbone toward your pubis and rotate your upper thighs inward slightly. With the next inhale, straighten the knees, sending the heels up toward the ceiling. Once the legs are fully lengthened, reach up through the balls of the big toes creating length through the inner edges of the legs
4. As you slowly breath, gaze softly into the chest, relax the throat, tongue, and facial muscles. Keep the chin perpendicular with the floor as you firmly press the backs of the upper arms and shoulders in to the blanket support. The back of the neck should feel no pressure or tension
5. Beginners should stay in the pose for about 30 seconds. Gradually increase the length of time within this pose until it is comfortable to stay for 5 minutes at a time. To exit the pose, exhale and slowly bend your knees letting your thighs drape over the shoulders. Contract abdominal muscles to keep the pelvis over the shoulders. Place your arms on the mat shoulder width apart. Keeping your head on the ground, knees bent, slowly and carefully roll your back onto the ground. Once your hips rest on the mat, hug your knees into your chest and rock side to side. Return to center and rest for several seconds

Modifications
• Beginners may find curling up with the pelvis and lifting into the pose difficult. You can assist the pelvis lifting by practicing near a wall. Position the blanket support a couple feet away from the wall so the hips lay close to the wall. Press feet against the wall and walk the feet up lifting the pelvis to find the position of the hands at the lower back
• Beginners may also want to start in a half inverted variation by only lifting the legs upwards to a 45 degree angle. This allows the pelvis to remain slightly away from shoulders reducing the weight on the shoulder and lower neck region
• To deepen the pose, press the entire hand against the ribs sending the sternum lightly towards the chin. At the same time, the tailbone presses into the pubic bone sending the heels further up to the ceiling

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