Introduction

Shoulder Stand, or Sarvangasana, is a yoga pose in which the entire body is balanced on the shoulders. ‘Sarv' denotes everything, ‘anga' indicates a physical part, and ‘asana' means position. The entire body is involved in this asana; you lie on your back and establish a 90-degree angle with your legs. Then, using your hands for support, you lift your hips off the ground and balance your entire body on your shoulders. Sarvangasana is a full-body exercise that works on several muscle groups and helps you attain balance, better posture, and serenity in a variety of ways. Sarvangasana, also known as the "Queen of Asanas," is extremely good for both mental and physical health.


Sarvangasana: Origin & History

In the year 1934, T. Krishnamacharya described this pose in his Yoga Makaranda. It's one among the Viparita Karani versions that were well-documented in medieval yoga manuals. Even though the book was released in 1934, shoulder stand had been a part of his teaching and practice for many years before that.


In addition, Mahatma Gandhiji was advised Sarvangasana for the treatment of High Blood Pressure by Sri Kuvalayananda, a yoga researcher and therapist, in 1924. It was a historical series of letters between Sri Mahatma Gandhiji and Sri Kuvalayananda on Sarvangasana.

In his yoga journal Yoga Mimamsa, Sri Kuvalayananda wrote an article on Sarvangasana in 1926. In his book The Secret Search in India, Dr Paul Brunton recounts his travels around India, including a meeting with a yogi in Madras who showed Sarvangasana and described the benefits of Sarvangasana for beginners.


In his book Yoga Asanas, published in 1931, Swami Sivananda Saraswati described this posture. Based on the foregoing, we can assume that this pose was practised in several places in India. We couldn't call this a modern yoga stance because it wasn't described by its name in the literature. It had been done in this manner for millennia, without any documentation, of course.


How To Do Sarvangasana? - Posture And Steps


Start with Ardha-Sarvangasana: Lie supine on the mat with your feet together and your hands beside your torso. Keep your thoughts quiet, your body relaxed, and take a full breath in and out.

  1. Draw your feet close to your hips and curl your legs against your thighs as you exhale.
  2. With a gentle pull of the abdominal muscles and the support of the hands, elevate the lower part of the body vertically (fingers under the hips and the thumbs above).
  3. The palms, elbows, neck, and back of the head should support the entire body weight (final position). Exhale as you complete the above actions in 4 seconds.
  4. Maintain this stance for as long as it is comfortable, but no more than two minutes, breathing slowly, rhythmically, and naturally.
  5. Return to the beginning position by inhaling and gently lowering the hips towards the mat, supported by the hands.
  6. Return to the beginning position by releasing the hands from behind you.
  7. Take a few deep breaths and then relax for a few moments before breathing normally.

Once you master Ardha-Sarvangasana, move on to Sarvangasana by following these steps:

  1. Exhale, raise your legs high enough to form a straight angle with your body. Keep your legs straight and your body above the hip joint unaffected on the ground.
  2. Raise the arms and grip the waist while pushing the body up as much as possible while still exhaling. Place all of your weight on your arms and rest on your elbows, with your legs raised.
  3. Attempt to shift the hands slowly towards the waist, with the fingers extended to the back of the hip bones and the thumbs pressed softly on both sides of the navel after this position is securely secured.
  4. Set the chin in the jugular notch and rest the entire weight of the head on the shoulders, neck, and back (final position). Exhale as you complete the above actions in 4 seconds.
  5. Maintain this stance for as long as it is comfortable, but no more than two minutes, breathing slowly, rhythmically, and naturally.
  6. Return to the beginning posture by bending the knees slowly and gently lowering the hips to the mat, supported by the hands, in 4 seconds while breathing.
  7. Return to the beginning position by releasing the hands from behind you.
  8. Take a few deep breaths and then relax for a few moments before breathing normally.

Precautions To Be Taken While Doing Sarvangasana

  1. All head-low postures should be approached with caution to avoid strain or jerks.
  2. The duration of exercise should be limited to a minimum of 20 seconds in the beginning and a maximum of 5 minutes.
  3. It's also a good idea to try this position in stages and only finish the pose after a few weeks of practice.
  4. Any head-low stance should never be attempted after engaging in any type of strenuous gymnastics, as the anomalous rush of blood to the brain at this point could cause more harm than good.
  5. Unguided and rushed attempts to do asana can put unnecessary pressure on the heart, respiratory organs, and brain, resulting in giddiness or discomfort, as well as an expansion of the head's blood vessels. Hypertension, heart disease, pregnancy, respiratory diseases, excessive myopia, glaucoma, and retinal detachment are all contraindications.

Tips For Beginners


Awareness:
  • Maintaining a straight line with the body.
  • Maintaining a healthy balance.
  • Breathing from the abdomen.
  • The thyroid and the throat can also be the centre of attention.

Do:
  • Knees should be straight and toes should point to the sky.
  • From the chest to the tips of the toes, try to keep your body in a straight line.
  • Straighten your neck and direct your gaze on your toes.
  • Make sure the trunk is vertically lifted sufficiently for the chin to rest comfortably against the chest.

Don’t:
  • Bend the knees.
  • In the chin lock position, move the neck or overstrain it.
  • When in the asana position, bring the legs over the head, but don't hold them entirely vertical if it causes stress.
  • Raise your head off the ground.
  • Tense your legs or point your toes to prevent blood from draining from your legs.

Health Benefits Of Sarvangasana

The benefits of Sarvangasana includes the following:

1. Supports Hypertension Treatment

This position aids in the reduction of high blood pressure. It does, however, momentarily raise blood pressure throughout the performance. It has been shown in recent research to lower blood pressure and heart rate. As a result, overall cardiac health improves. As a result, this position can be utilised as an adjuvant treatment for high blood pressure.


2. Improves Thyroid Health

Hormonal imbalances cause thyroid disorders such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. The shoulder stand enhances thyroid function by restoring blood flow to the area. Thyroid health improves as a result. Thyroid hormone is necessary for young children's growth and cognitive development. It is more significant in terms of metabolism. As a result, the thyroid's health dictates the body's general health. This posture improves overall health when practised daily. Furthermore, with consistent practice, health disorders such as Goiter, thyroiditis, Graves disease, thyroid nodule, thyroid storm, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and even thyroid cancer can be avoided.


3. Improves Parathyroid Health

The level of calcium in the blood and bones is regulated by the parathyroid glands. As a result, the health of the parathyroid glands determines the strength of the bone. By activating the aforementioned glands, this posture helps to improve the strength of the bones in the body. Furthermore, calcium levels are more necessary for optimal brain activities. As a result, the Shoulder Stand aids in improving brain processes and supercharging the brain. As a result, depression is alleviated, and memory is enhanced.


4. Good for Varicose Vein

Varicose veins are enlargements, swellings, and twistings of the veins that usually affect the legs. There is a reflex flow of blood through the veins of the legs in this health condition, leading blood circulation to be unstable. Pregnant women and adults who are overweight are particularly vulnerable to this condition. Symptoms include blue or dark purple-coloured twisted or spider veins, as well as skin bulging. It usually does not require treatment unless it has progressed to the point of vein rupture. Inverted Yoga poses, such as Shoulder Stand, help to clear sluggish blood from the veins. In addition, the veins are fed with fresh blood. As a result, consistent Shoulder Stand exercise aids in the treatment of varicose veins.


5. Boosts Brain Functions

It improves the flow of blood to the brain. As a result, it helps to alleviate mental tension, sadness, and other psychological issues. The ears and eyes are reenergized by increased blood flow to the head. This helps to keep small headaches at bay.


6. Women Health

It helps women with ovarian insufficiency. It also aids in the regularisation of the periods. This method helps to restore health that has been harmed by frequent delivery. It helps with varicose veins caused by pregnancy.


7. Activates Throat Chakra

Regular practice helps Kundalini awaken by activating the throat centre.


The Bottom Line

Although the technique of performing Sarvangasana appears challenging at first, it can be mastered with practice. The practitioner can experience the asana's many health advantages once they have a grasp on it. To stay hale and healthy, it is best to practice this every day. Sarvangasana can give you a wide range of health and fitness benefits. As a result, practice Sarvangasana at home regularly, starting with 2 minutes.

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