How do you feel about being upside down?
We take a deeper look into Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulder Stand), what it's good for, and the best way to find the right position for you so you don't have to leave it out at the end of your practice.
Shoulder Stand is one of those super-poses that has a wide array of benefits to not only the outer body but the inner body and mind as well, including: -
"Persons suffering from breathlessness, palpitation, asthma, bronchitis and throat ailments get relief from [Shoulder Stand]." - B.K.S. Iygenar, Light on Yoga
With all these benefits, it's not a pose that you'll want to leave out of your practice! Now, let's find out how to do it properly to be able to get all of these lovely benefits.
Here are three technical steps of getting into a Salamba Sarvangasana: -
1. Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest (Apanasana).
2. Rock your pelvis and legs up towards the ceiling by activating your core till your bum has lifted off the floor and catch your lower back with your hands.
3. Gently bring the elbows in towards each other and raise the legs straight up towards the sky.
Safely getting out of a pose is just as, if not more, important as getting into it. Here's how you can safely get out of Shoulder Stand.
1. From Shoulder Stand, bring one knee down at a time towards your head.
2. Slowly splay out the elbows and slide the hands down from the lower back to the bum letting the upper body down as gently as possible, eventually bringing the bum to the floor, one vertebra at a time, till you're back in Apanasana.
While some glide effortlessly into Supported Shoulder Stand like they were born this way, others prefer to glide right past it it in their practice as if it doesn't exist. If you find this pose difficult or uncomfortable but wish that you could learn to love it, we show you some Shoulder Stand variations that combat the five most common problems faced with this pose to make sure you'll never want to skip it again.
Shoulder stand is one of those poses that you usually either love or hate. There are four main common problems that come along with doing a shoulder stand, and we are here to tackle each one.
A common problem is pain or discomfort in the neck when doing this pose. Firstly, it's called Shoulder Stand and not Neck Stand, so make sure your weight is on your shoulders. If you still have an ouchy neck, you are not alone. Good job we've found a couple of really accessible solutions.
From "legs up the wall" pose, straighten the body into a plank. This angle alleviates tension to the neck spitting the weight between the shoulders and the wall.
Or two, or five! Put a rolled up blanket or yoga mat, or a soft bolster or cushion under the neck to soften the contact with the floor. The Dharma Yoga wheel is really good at helping your Salamba Sarvangasana too.
If you have trouble getting and keeping your legs all the way up in Shoulder Stand, here's the good news: they don't actually have to go or stay all the way up! Here are a couple of alternatives.
A popular transition from Shoulder Stand and in succession in the Ashtanga yoga series are Plough and Ear Pressure Poses, where you bring your legs back down to the floor over your head. Have fun with it!
If you're set on getting your legs up though, an alternative way of using a wall to help in this pose is having the wall behind your head with your shins or feet leaning against it.
This trick is surprisingly efficient! Putting a block under your bum somehow magically manages to make sure your legs stay up letting you get all of the lovely benefits of being upside down.
Shoulder ache in Shoulder Stand isn't that surprising because you are essentially holding yourself up on your shoulders. But it doesn't have to be painful. Here are some things you can try if you have discomfort in your shoulders when doing this pose.
Use a folded up blanket under the shoulders to lift them a few inches off the floor, with the head resting on the floor/mat, softening the contact of the shoulders to the floor and helping alleviate any pressure in the shoulders and neck.
What softer (and more fun) way is there to do your Shoulder Stand than on your bed? Softly and slowly does it.
Can't breathe in Shoulder Stand because your nasal passages are being blocked by your ample assets? You are not alone! Here are a few Shoulder Stand variations for those who have tried every sports bra on the planet and still have a "boobs in face" issue when doing this pose.
Bring your bottom closer and more parallel to the floor, supporting your lower back with your hands. You: 1. Gravity: 0.
As in the point above, the slightly lowered angle of your body/feet leaning against a stool or chair makes sure that your boobs don't squash your face as much as when in the full expression of the pose. Alternatively, you can use a stool under your bottom.
(via Maya Yoga Studio)
Shoulder Stand is essentially a balancing pose. It's perfectly normal to find it tricky at the beginning to find your pose. Here are some tips to straighten that problem right out.
Leaning against the wall with your legs bent and feet flat against it allows you to try balancing by lifting one leg up at a time. Remember to tighten your core. Alternatively, you can just hang out here.
We love this completely innovative idea of using a bike stand as a yoga prop! If the bike stand near you is not exactly suitable for doing yoga on, you can always use a chair...
...or a Dharma yoga wheel.
And if all else fails, you can always lean on a friend!
We love playing around with yoga and we know you do too. Here are some awesome Shoulder Stand variations we came across that we can't wait to have a fun play with.
How do you find Shoulder Stand? Do you have any tips/tricks to for this pose? We'd love to hear from you.