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.

What is Sarvangasana Yoga?

Sarvangasana comprises three words from Sanskrit, where "sarv" stands for all, "anga" for all of your bodily parts, and "asana" for the position. It is also known as the shoulder stand pose. The entire body is used in this asana, which involves lying on your back and bending your legs at a 90-degree angle. Using your hands as support, you raise your hips off the ground, then balance your complete body on your shoulders.

Start with Halasana before attempting the challenging asana known as Sarvangasana. The plough posture is performed by lying on your back, lifting your legs, bending them almost 180 degrees, and bringing them up above your head. This will give you the momentum and stretch out your leg and hip muscles in preparation for Sarvangasana.

Sarvangasana Information

Sarvangasana is Sanskrit for "whole body exercise." It is clear from the asana's ultimate position that the entire body will benefit from it. Sarvangasana yoga is highly recommended to attempt in sections at first and to finish the pose after a few weeks of basic training.

Pose Name Sarvangasana
Sanskrit Name सर्वाङ्गासन
English Name Shoulder Stand
Origin Medieval Period
Difficulty Level Intermediate
Type Inverted Posture
Chakra Vishuddhi

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 yoga (Shoulder Stand Pose): Steps to do Sarvangasana

Below mentioned is the step-by-step process for how to do Sarvangasana. Please note that you must keep your body calm and still to do this particular yoga asana. The Sarvangasana steps are not to be done with hesitation. Keep your body in a straight line and remain balanced while doing abdominal breathing.

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 yoga posture

It is important to take some precautions when performing the Sarvangasana posture. This is a low head posture; therefore, you must take extra care to avoid any possible strain or jokes. A minimum of 20 seconds must be your tenure to perform this exercise. Moreover, it is advisable to perform this pose in parts and complete it after an initial few days of training.

  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 Performing Sarvangasna Pose

Following are some of the tips for performing the shoulder stand pose, Sarvangasana. Please note that such a low head pose must not be attempted after any sort of rigorous gymnastics. This will do more harm than good because of an abnormal rush to the brain.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

How To Modify Sarvangasana: 3 Variations of Sarvangasana Pose

Below mentioned are the three most important Sarvangasana variations that are recommended for every practitioner:-

  1. Candlestick - Place one foot on top of the other. The upper foot's ball should be softly pressed through, and your legs should be slightly squeezed. After pausing for a few breaths, switch sides.
  2. Eagle (Garudasana) Legs - Left thigh is crossed across the right. Alternatively, you may just point your toes in the direction you want them to travel while you continue to wrap your right leg around your left. Squeeze legs gently. Take a breather. Legs should be unwound, then rewound with the left leg on top.
  3. Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana) Legs - Connect the bottoms of the feet, then slowly bring the heels down toward your butt.

10 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.

8. Sarvangasana Sexual Benefits

Conditions like male erectile dysfunction, and weak erections are improved by this posture. Sarvangasana enables impotence better. Additionally, Sarvangasana benefits in preserving chastity. It regenerates the organs damaged by excessive sexual behaviour. 

9.Benefits of Sarvangasana for weight loss

Body weight may be controlled over the long run with frequent Sarvangasana practice. Shoulder stand benefits by decreasing the additional stomach flap, toning the muscles in the abdomen, and strengthening the core.

10. Immunity

Immunity is increased by Sarvangasana. The circulatory, digestive, reproductive, and neurological systems of the body are also balanced by it. They, therefore, have a favourable effect on the body's general wellness.

11.Other Ailments

Varicose veins are prevented and treated with Sarvangasana. It cures haemorrhoids and lowers anal pressure (piles). Reduced water retention in the lower body is a benefit of the shoulder stand position. It also manages migraines and headaches.

Common Mistakes To Avoid While Doing Sarvangasana Yoga

The biggest yoga error one may make is trying to achieve perfection in a position quickly. The body should be parallel to the ground when performing Sarvangasana. And the chin became firmly fixed to the neck. This difficult variation of Sarvangasana might cause injury to your cervical spine. 

You must approach it very gently and retreat if you even feel a little discomfort. Always exercise on a wooden surface. If it's not possible, use a folded blanket or a doubled yoga mat beneath the shoulders.

Recommended Practice For Sarvangasana Pose

Just once and for no more than two minutes. Repeating it or doing it for longer than the allotted time may be harmful in some circumstances, especially if it is done alongside other regular yoga physical exercises. One may use any object as support to fall back on until perfect equilibrium is achieved. 

Start by improvising this stance by leaning your head low against a wall or other sturdy object. During the first practice, one should be willing to take a few pillows' worth of support or the personal assistance of another person.

Sarvangasana Should Not Be Performed In The Condition Of 

Asana should be avoided if you have heart problems since it involves standing on your shoulders and putting all of your weight on your upper body. As a result, the heart must pump blood against gravity more forcefully.

Preparatory Poses

  • Dwi Pada Uttanpadasana
  • Viparita Karani

Which Asana Should Be Practised After Sarvangasana?

  • Matsyasana
  • Bhujangasana or Chakrasana
  • Halasan, Vistrut Pada Halasana, Karnapidasana and Ashwini Mudra

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Frequently Asked Questions

For how long should Sarvangasana yoga pose be done?

Sarvangasana yoga is performed for a minimum of two minutes to maintain a proper balance and reap the most benefit.

How should a beginner practice Sarvangasana?

A beginner should practice Sarvangasana following these steps: 

  • Lay down on your back. your side, with hands.
  • Be prepared to use your hands to support your back. Lift your knees, buttocks, and back all at once to raise your shoulders high.
  • Lift your heels higher while maintaining tight legs.
  • Avoid lowering your neck to the ground. Hold it firmly.
  • Stay in the stance for 30 seconds or up to three minutes while breathing in.
  • On the floor, bend our knees, legs, spine, and vertebra by vertebra. Put your hands to your sides. Lie back for a moment.

Can we do Sarvangasana during periods?

No, it is generally not recommended to do Sarvangasana which is when a woman is on her periods.

How do you breathe in Sarvangasana?

Individuals must follow the technique of abdominal breathing while following Sarvangasana. This helps them to hold their breath for a longer period, thus helping them to continue the pose for a minimum of two minutes.

Sarvangasana is effective for complications of which gland?

It presses against the thyroid gland. The biggest blood supply goes to the thyroid gland. Squeezing sluggish secretion and enhancing blood circulation are two benefits of Sarvangasana. Blood is released into the neck, the thyroid is nourished, and hypothyroidism is reversed.

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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