Salamba Sarvangasana is a calming and centering pose for the mind. It is both challenging and soothing. Salamba means with support, sarva means entire and anga means limb, as such it really means support all limbs pose but in English we call it Shoulderstand.
In this asana the blood flows down to the heart, throat and brain providing more blood and oxygen to these areas. This is one of the first inversions most beginners learn and a beneficial one. BKS Iyengar said that “this asana strives for harmony and happiness of the human system”.
Please make sure to be gentle with yourself and only go as far as your body allows. This asana is generally not suggested for anyone with high blood pressure, back injuries and during menstruation. Don’t force anything and do not move your head once your legs are over your head in Halasana and Salamba Sarvangasana.
Benefits of Salamba Sarvangasana
strengthens the core
strengthens the shoulders
brings calmness to the mind
stimulates the thyroid glands
How to Perform Salamba Sarvangasana
Start off lying down on your back with legs extend out and arms alongside your body.
As you inhale, engage your abdominal muscles and lift your legs up 90 degrees into Viparita Karani, so your feet are pointing up towards the sky. You are welcome to first bend your knees towards your chest and then straighten them up.
From this point forward do not move your neck at all as you risk injuring it.
As you exhale, lift your hips off the ground taking your legs over your head into Halasana and place your hands on your back for support.
From Halasana, using your abdominal muscles, start lifting your legs up keeping them straight until they are perpendicular to the ground. Keep your gaze on your toes and just breathe.
Please listen to your body and at any point if you feel pain or discomfort come out of the pose. While holding Shoulderstand continue to look at your toes, press your elbows into the ground and keep your weight in the upper arms and shoulders. The intention is to try bring the shoulders, hips and legs into one vertical line but if you are not perfectly straight don’t worry it’s okay. You do not want to force anything and risk injury. The pose does not need to look any specific way, as long as the intention is there and you are doing what your body allows you are where you are meant to be.
To come out of the pose you have two options. Lower the legs very slowly back down behind you into Halasana, alternatively bend your knees first to your forehead and then extend your legs into Halasana. From here remove your hands from your back and extend them forward palms pressing into the ground. Slowly start to lower your back down one vertebrae at a time until you are lying down on your back with legs extended and arms alongside your body.
Take a moment her to relax and breath, you are free to also bring your knees into your chest and take hold of your shins. Just stay here for a moment and observe the energy in your body.
If you are not comfortable with attempting Salamba Sarvangasana or need an alternative to this pose, you can always stay in Viparita Karani with your legs in the air.