“This results in quickness of mind, liberation from the sense organs, and mastery (jaya) over matter” - Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 3.48

The word Sarvangasana comes from Sanskrit and can be broken into three parts: sarv meaning all, anga meaning body part and asana meaning pose; it translates to all limbs pose but is called the shoulder stand pose. 

It’s commonly classified as an inversion - yoga poses that invert your body or turn it upside down, with your feet up and head low. This changes how the gravitational force affects the body internally for the duration of the asana. It encourages blood flow to the brain and has mental health benefits along with physical ones. 

Sarvangasana can be a gateway to more complex inversions. It is done by raising your legs up in the air and supporting your body with your shoulders, neck and head.

  1. Sarvangasana (shoulder stand pose): Correct way to do Sarvangasana
  2. Modifications of Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose)
  3. Benefits of Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose)
  4. Who should not do Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose)

Following are the steps for practising Sarvangasana:

  • Lie down on the mat on your back. Ensure that your body is in one line and that your feet are together. 
  • Place your arms next to your body, keep them straight with your palms on the floor. 
  • Relax your mind and body. 
  • Now raise your legs so that they are perpendicular to the floor. If required, take the support of your hands to take your legs straight up, till your heels are in line with your hips.
  • Once the legs are vertical, return your hands to the floor. 
  • Slowly raise your hips and spine off the floor. You can bend your elbows and place your hands on your back for support.
  • Gradually move your hands up, as close to your shoulders as possible.
  • Keep your elbows in line your body, about shoulder-width apart and not spread out.
  • Try pushing slightly to have your chest touch your chin. 
  • Maintain this pose for as long as comfortable or for up to 30 seconds. 
  • Now, while keeping your legs straight, push them forward to be above your head. Take your hands off your back now and return them to the floor, palms down. 
  • Slowly lower your back to the floor, followed by your hips and then your legs.
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Once you’ve mastered the Sarvangasana, you can try the following modifications to increase the intensity: 

  • Once you are in Sarvangasana, exhale as you move your left leg forward, towards your head, till the leg is parallel to the floor. The right leg remains in the perpendicular position. Inhale as you return the left leg to the perpendicular position. Repeat with the right leg.
  • Once you are in Sarvangasana, exhale as you move your hips forward slightly and lower both the legs to be parallel to the floor. Hold for 5 seconds and exhale as you return to Sarvangasana.
  • Once you are in Sarvangasana, inhale as you bend the right knee and place your right foot on the left knee. Exhale as you move your hips forward, toward your head and try to touch your right knee to your forehead. Hold your breath and the position for a few seconds and then return to Sarvangasana. Repeat on the other leg.

Sarvangasana has many health benefits, including: 

  • This asana stimulates the thyroid gland. 
  • This asana improves circulation, aids digestion and balances the nervous and reproductive systems. 
  • This asana helps relieve mental and emotional stress
  • This asana boosts the immune system.
  • Because of the inversion, this asana could help with piles (haemorroids) as it reduces pressure on the anal muscles. 
  • This asana tones the legs and the abdomen.

Sarvangasana should not be performed by anyone who has an enlarged thyroid gland, liver or spleen. It should also be avoided if you are suffering from:

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