During a past yoga class at Trimetrics, preparing the students for a preparation for shoulder stand, I started a discussion on the effects of this often feared, sometimes challenging but enormously beneficial pose.
Shoulder stand in sanskrit is called: Salamba Sarvangasana. Translated, this means the whole body is supported on the neck and shoulders, using the hands, arms and strong lift through the pelvis and legs to invert the body.
It is quoted by BKS Iyengar as the “Mother of Asanas” in his textbook of poses, Light on Yoga, “Just as a mother strives for harmony and happiness in the home, this asana (pose) strives for harmony and happiness in the human system”.
What are it’s effects on the human system?
Due to the inverted nature of this pose, healthy blood is allowed to circulate around the neck and chest with venous blood flowing towards the heart unimpeded by the force of gravity. Commonly, those suffering from respiratory disturbances such as asthma and bronchitis, heart palpitations, nasal and throat irritations are afforded some relief. It is suggested that common colds and nasal disturbances are eradicated by this pose and after a long period of illness, vigor and strength can be restored.
The endocrine system is an essential system of ductless glands which regulate the flow of hormones through the body. Bathed in blood, these glands absorb nutrients from the bloodstream and rely on this for proper functioning. The chin lock of the shoulder stand allows for increased blood flow through the neck which affects the thyroid and parathyroid glands situated in the neck and also the thymus gland in the sternal region.
Could there be more effects?
The abdominal and pelvic region are affected by so many things through the course of our lives. Our sometimes sedentary lives, sitting at the computer, driving and improper eating habits, compromise our digestive system. Something as simple as inverting the body in a pose such as a shoulder stand can bring space and expansion into this region. Using gravity to assist, the organs such as the intestines, the bowels, the uterus and the bladder are allowed to releasee from the downward pull in the lower pelvis. This
pose is recommended for constipation, urinary disorders, uterine fibroids, menstrual problems, stomach and intestinal ulcers, colitis and hernias.
On a daily basis, when time is a factor, it is recommended that yoga devotees must always include some type of headstand inversion followed by a shoulder stand or one of its preparatory positions. Because sequencing of poses in the Iyengar system is one of its distinguishing components, a shoulder stand variation is always done at the end of a class. The soothing effects on the nervous system make this an integral pose in any yoga class. This is why those particularly affected by irritability, short tempers, nervous system disorders and insomnia are afforded great relief.
The following photos show how a full shoulder stand is performed and how we use props to position and align the body in a helpful and protective way.
Level 1 Iyengar classes at Trimetrics can show you how to get started with this pose and many others. Not to be overstated, yoga can bring strength, vitality and confidence to anyone willing to give it a try. Join us today!
BSc PT, BEd and certified Iyengar Yoga instructor