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How To Do Sarvangasan (Shoulder Stand) Effectively

Guest Author - Tracy Webb

Practicing Savangasan affects the whole body. It is usually performed towards the end of a yoga session as the body is warmed up and will yield more readily to the posture. Practicing the Shoulder Stand also assists in deriving more benefits from your practice than you otherwise would.

Sarv means ‘all’ and Ang means ‘limb’ meaning all limbs, or parts of the body are affected. Principally, the effects are felt in the improved functioning of the brain, nervous system, respiratory system, blood circulation, throat, abdomen, and over all well-being.

By keeping the body in a vertical position, the cervical spine is stimulated, which strengthens the nerves and plexus of the brain. Stagnant blood from the legs is drained and the circulatory system is activated bringing a fresh supply of blood to the whole body.

Contra-Indications

There are many contra-indicators to practicing this asana. It is recommended that anyone experiencing any of the following should avoid this asana:

• High blood pressure
• Heart conditions
• Enlarged thyroid, spleen or liver
• Menstruating or pregnant
• Avoid if you have a back condition such as slipped disc, spondylitis or weak eye muscles

The benefits are numerous for those fit enough to practice, including;

• Asthma
• Reproductive disorders
• Varicose veins
• Diabetes
• Headaches
• Hemorrhoids

This practice may be challenging for people who are new to yoga or are overweight, as it can take a lot of effort to lift your hips and legs off the ground. You may do a variation if you struggle to get into the full asana. It is perfectly acceptable bend your legs to get you started and to use a wall for assistance until you feel able to do it on your own. Go at your own pace.

The Technique

• Lie on your back on the floor with your legs straight, feet together and arms by your side with palms facing down. Ensure the whole body is straight
• As you exhale raise your legs to 90 degrees. Stay there for a couple of breathes
• Raise the legs up and beyond the head
• On the next inhale bring the legs parallel to the head and stretch your toes up to the sky. Your full weight should be on the shoulders and your chin pressed against the throat.
• Support yourself with your hands on your back or waist
• Hold this position for approx 3 minutes
• Breathe normally
• To come out of the asana, release the hands, and slowly bring your legs over your head, then slowly ease the spine down to the floor vertebrae by vertebrae until the spine and legs are flat on the floor
• Lay in Shavasan for several minutes

Happy practicing!
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Content copyright © 2014 by Tracy Webb. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Tracy Webb. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Terri Johansen for details.

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