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Salamba Sarvangasana // Shoulderstand

Note: In many yoga traditions shoulderstand is not practiced if you are pregnant or currently menstruating. The reason for this due to the natural flow of energy. In both of these “conditions” (lol) the natural energy flow of the body is downwards and out and this posture (as well as other inversions) creates an opposing energy – bringing everything back up. For this reason many women choose not to practice this pose during their period. The pic above however, was taken while I was on my period. What a rebel I am.

Getting into the pose:
Start by lying on the ground flat on the back. Slowly roll the knees towards the forehead and place the hands on the lower back to support the spine. Press into the elbows and gently lift one leg and then the other into the sky, keeping the gaze towards the the navel – never twisting or rotating the neck in this posture. Keep the hands supporting the lower spine if you are starting out. (Picture shown above is with the hands interlaced behind the body).

Common Errors in the pose:
Collapsing into the back of the neck. Make sure there is a small gap between the nape of the neck and the floor. If there is any discomfort place a rolled up towel or blanket under the shoulders to create a bit more height which will allow the back of the head to drop down to the mat with a bit more space behind the neck. The weight of the body should be in the shoulders and not in the neck.

Benefits of the pose:

  • Massages the thyroid gland and therefore promotes a healthy metabolism
  • Encourages lymph drainage and allows body fluids at the bottom of the body to flow back into the body. (I usually like to point and flex my toes in this posture which helps the calf muscle (gastrocnemious) to gently massage the fluids in the leg back into the body)
  • Strengthens the shoulders and the neck
  • Helps reduce insomnia

This pose should usually be finished with the counter pose – Matseyasana, Fish Pose.