Salamba Sarvangasana or Supported Shoulderstand is a very powerful form of yoga that can help in promoting good blood circulation, effectively calm the nerves and remove anxiety by stimulating parasympathetic nervous system, get rid of depression, ease fatigue as well as improve immune function. Due to this reason, it is highly regarded by many yoga masters as one of the best forms of asanas. Regular practice of Salamba Sarvangasana can be quite beneficial for a person’s overall well being.
Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand)
Stack and fold 2 or more blankets into perfect rectangles that measure around 1 foot/2 feet and then place them one above the other. Additionally you may also place one sticky mat just over the blankets for helping your upper arms to stay in the right place while doing the pose. Lie on these blankets with shoulders perfectly supported and head placed on the floor. Gently lay the arms on the ground surface alongside your torso. Bend the knees and then set the feet against floor with your heels placed closely to sitting bones. Breathe, exhale and press your arms firmly against the floor. Push the feet away from floor and draw your thighs on your front torso.
Keep on lifting your feet by gently curling your pelvis and the back torso. Draw them away from the ground surface in a way that your knees get close towards your face. Gently stretch the arms out and place them parallel to edge of the blanket. Then turn your arms outward in a way that the fingers press firmly against the floor. Your thumbs should point behind you at this time. Next, bend your elbows to draw them closer to each other. Put the back of the upper arms on the blanket, spreading the palms against the back of the torso. As you raise the pelvis over your shoulders, make sure that the torso remains relatively perpendicular to the floor. Now walk the hands up to your back and toward the ground surface without letting your elbows slide wider than the shoulder width.
Gently inhale and lift the bent knees slowly toward the ceiling, thereby bringing the thighs perfectly in line with the torso and keeping your heels down by the buttocks. Now press the tailbone toward the pubis and curve upper thighs slightly inward. Inhale slowly and straighten your knees, pressing heels upward toward the ceiling. As the back portions of the legs get fully lengthened, slowly lift through balls of your big toes in a way that the inner legs stretch somewhat longer than outer.
Now soften your throat and tongue. Make sure to firm your shoulder blades against the back and then move your sternum slowly toward the chin. Keep your forehead in a relatively parallel level to the floor and your chin perpendicular. Now press backs of the upper arms as well as tops of the shoulders actively into blanket support and then try lifting your upper spine slowly away from the floor. Finally gaze at your chest softly.
When you are starting to do this pose, maintain the pose for around 30 seconds. As you become more used to it, add another 5 seconds to 10 seconds to the pose every day as long as you can hold the pose comfortably for 3 minutes. Continue the pose for about 3 minutes every day for one week or two, till the time you feel perfectly comfortable with the pose. Once you achieve this, expend the total time for the pose to about 5 minutes. While coming down, gently exhale and bend your knees to your torso once more, then roll the back torso carefully and slowly onto the floor, thus keeping back of the head right on the floor.
People who have a tendency to suffer from headache, diarrhea, high blood pressure, neck injury and menstruation problems should not attempt this pose. It is also better not to practice it during pregnancy.
Since Salamba Sarvangasana is a type of intermediate pose that gives way to advanced yoga poses, it should only be practiced under the guidance of an expert yoga instructor.