What is Sarvangasana?
Sarvangasana (aka Salamba Sarvangasana) gets its name from three Sanskrit words. The first one is sarva, meaning all, the second is anga, meaning limb, and the last one is asana, which means posture.
The literal meaning of Sarvangasana is all limbs pose or the entire body pose. Therefore, its name symbolizes the benefits bestowed on the entire body by this asana.
However, in English, this pose is generally called shoulder stand pose since the practitioner stands on the shoulder support and the entire body weight rests on the shoulder.
Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulder Stand Pose)
The word Salamba means supported in Sanskrit. As the lower back is supported with the hands in this inversion, therefore, Sarvangasana is also called Salamba Sarvangasana. However, both the names can be used interchangeably for the same asana.
Steps to do Sarvangasana
- Lie down on your back (you can use a yoga mat or a blanket). Keep your body straight and your feet together. Place your hands by the side of your body, palms down.
- Now, slowly walk your feet as close as possible to your buttocks by gently bending your knees. Place your feet on the floor.
- Place your palms under your buttocks for support. Raise your legs to a vertical position until your buttocks and spine are off the floor.
- Keep your legs vertical and raise them over your head, bringing your hips and torso perpendicular to the floor.
- Finally, place your palms on your lower back vertically behind the rib cage to support your body.
- Hold this position for a few normal breaths or as long as you are comfortable.
- Do not turn your head. Look straight at your chest to avoid any neck injury. Also, avoid putting much weight on your head and neck.
- To come out of this posture, bend your knees back towards your torso and face. Gradually bring your legs back to where they were in step 2 and return to the starting position (step 1).
Duration to practice
Although, beginners should only hold this pose for around thirty seconds to one minute with practice one can gradually increase the duration and hold the asana for up to ten minutes.
Benefits of Sarvangasana
- Normalizes body weight. Stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands hence help in normalizing body weight.
- Reduces insomnia. The increased blood flow to the brain helps reduce insomnia and anxiety.
- Cures headache. AS the head remains inverted in Sarvangasana, the blood supply to the head is regulated by the chin lock which helps to cure headaches.
- Aid to cure indigestion and constipation. To know more benefits of Sarvangasana you can refer to this paper published on the ijsdr website.
- Sarvangasana should be avoided in case one has a shoulder or neck injury.
- Additionally, Shoulder Stand Pose is not recommended if the practitioner has glaucoma, high blood pressure, or a detached retina.
- Women should avoid this pose during menstruation and pregnancy.
- However, if you are a complete beginner, check out this beginner-friendly version of Sarvangasana on yogajournal.