Though there are lots of poses involved in yoga, one is considered to be the Queen of all the asanas, as it has several noteworthy health benefits.
This pose doesn’t make the other yoga asanas insignificant, but yogis throughout history believed that Shoulderstand, also known as Sarvangasana, was thought to be the basis for all types of yogic practices.
While Shoulderstand is considered the Queen of the Asanas, the Headstand, its partner pose, is thought to be the King (to learn more about The King, read here). Shoulderstand is an inverted pose and is usually one of the first inversions beginners try. This is because it’s more stable than Handstand or Headstand positions.
You’ll learn more about the Shoulderstand pose in this post, including some of its benefits, safety precautions, and how to practice it safely.
Benefits Of Shoulderstand Pose
Sarvangasana, or Shoulderstand, is known as the Queen, or the mother, of the yoga asanas. This is because it has a lot of health benefits, like improving core strength, improving the lymphatic system, and relieving nasal congestion.
Here are some of the other benefits of the Shoulderstand pose:
Shoulderstand pose can give the neck and shoulder muscles a good stretch. This is ideal for anyone that works hunched over a computer, often carries a weighty shoulder bag, or regularly feels stress in the shoulders and neck.
Shoulderstand is an inversion pose, which means that the heart is positioned higher above the head. This helps transport blood from the pelvis and legs back to the lungs and heart, helping it obtain oxygen more efficiently. This process may help increase energy levels, which is ideal for anyone that feels sluggish throughout the day.
Raising the feet and legs above the torso is a pose that many people don’t practice regularly. This position alters spinal compression to aid gravity on the body. This can neutralize the negative side effects linked with sitting, like lower body swelling and varicose veins.
Studies have also shown that yoga practices that involve Shoulderstand have found that it can help relieve lower back pain.
As is the case with several yoga asanas, practicing Shoulderstand pose can be a soothing experience. Prioritizing relaxation time can help aid anxiety feelings, improve poor sleeping patterns, and lower blood pressure.
How To Perform Shoulderstand Pose
Now that you know some of the benefits of practicing Shoulderstand, here’s how to perform the Queen of the yoga poses.
Before we start, bear in mind that there are severe risks linked with Shoulderstand, so it’s important to set the pose up correctly for safety.
There are lots of ways to get into the pose, but entering Shoulderstand from Halasana, known as Plow Pose, can help your back and shoulders come into alignment.
There’s also another version of Shoulderstand known as Iyengar. This involves placing one or two blankets beneath your shoulders. It’s important to position these folded blankets properly, as they need to line up with the side of your yoga mat.
As you enter Shoulderstand, your upper back and shoulders should remain on the blanket, but your neck and head shouldn’t be on it. Your head needs to be on the bare ground, allowing it to slide when needed. The folded blankets will ensure your neck stays with its natural curve.
Follow these steps to perform Shoulderstand pose:
- Start laying face down on the mat, adjusting your body with the blankets as outlined above. Bend your legs and keep your feet flat on the ground, as though you were practicing Bridge pose. Start to walk the shoulders beneath your upper back, as your chest gradually rises.
- Raise your hips off the yoga mat to arrive at Bridge pose. Straighten your arms across the floor with your palms facing down, as if the hands could reach your heels.
- Push firmly through your palms for support, as you lift onto the balls of the feet. Straighten one leg towards the sky.
- Bend your elbows and position your hands on your lower back to form a shelf. Lift the other leg straight up. As you raise your legs, do not rotate your head to the side, as looking around the space can lead to neck injuries. Maintain an upward gaze and keep your neck straight.
- Rise upwards through the balls of the feet. You can walk your hands up on your back for additional support. Notice your chest stretching in the direction of your chin, as this helps open the upper back muscles.
- Straighten your body by shifting your feet towards the back of the space and your hips towards the front of the space. This will help your body align correctly, which involves the feet over the hips and the hips over the shoulders. However, if you don’t use supports or blankets, do not align your body in a complete vertical pose.
- Hold the position for a maximum of ten breaths.
- To release the Shoulderstand pose, move your feet over your head to reach Plow pose, then come out from Plow gradually and carefully.
If you notice any tension after Shoulderstand, you can practice Fish pose, known as Matsyasana. This is a back bend pose that can help relieve neck and upper back tension.
Shoulderstand Mistakes To Avoid
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when practicing Shoulderstand. These will help make the pose more effective and help prevent injuries.
Several yoga students practice Shoulderstand with no awareness of their glutes. They may also position their feet over their foreheads instead of above the hips, which interferes with the whole pose.
To prevent this mistake, ensure that your heels remain above your hips and shift your shoulder blades securely into your back.
If you don’t activate your core muscles during Shoulderstand, you can find it hard to completely raise your hips. This can make it more difficult to move your hands along your back for support.
As you practice the whole pose, make an effort to engage and activate the core muscles.
The correct Shoulderstand position involves maintaining a directly ahead gaze. If you move your head to look at the instructor or look at others in your class, you may injure your neck.
If you often have the inclination to look around the room, close your eyes to lower the temptation.
Shoulderstand Safety Concerns
Shoulderstand may be known as the Queen of yoga positions, but there are some safety precautions to be aware of.
Do not practice Shoulderstand if you live with a neck condition or injuries. It’s also important to avoid Shoulderstand if you have glaucoma, high blood pressure, new dental bone grafts, or a condition where the head shouldn’t be positioned lower than the heart.
If you notice any pain when practicing Shoulderstand, cease the pose at once and carefully come out of the pose.
Beginners may be able to hold the position for a breath or two, but if you’re more advanced, you may be able to hold it for ten breaths. Always stick to your skill level, as progressing too fast can lead to injuries.
The Bottom Line
All yoga poses are beneficial, but as it is linked with several health benefits, Shoulderstand is thought to be the Queen of them all.
However, it’s important to practice Shoulderstand cautiously, as incorrect positioning can lead to injuries. Remember to activate your core muscles and keep your body in proper alignment.
If possible, have a certified yoga instructor guide you through Shoulderstand, as this will ensure that you perform the movement correctly.