Friday, July 2, 2010

Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) - The Mother of Asanas

I start teaching Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana) a few weeks into the Level 1 classes, depending on the experience level of the group.  Some students love it right away, and some are never too keen on it.  (I never insist that people do this pose, because there are good reasons why some people should avoid it.   There are other poses that give similar benefits.)

I often am asked WHY do we do this pose?  (Sometimes this is asked in frustration...)  It's probably easier to understand and feel the benefits of other poses.   Standing poses, for example, help us learn how to stretch the muscles in the legs and arms, to open the chest, and to create more mobility in the joints, while also developing more steadiness in the body.  

For one thing going upside down like this is rather exciting, since most of us stop doing things like this after we leave childhood.   Going upside down gives us a different perspective on the world!

There are many other benefits from doing Shoulderstand!

In "Light on Yoga", B.K.S. Iyengar says about Shoulderstand, "Sarvangasana is the Mother of asanas.  As a mother strives for harmony and happiness in the home, so this asana strives for the harmony and happiness of the human system."

Sarvangasana promotes health and alleviates many common ailments.

Many of the benefits are listed in "Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health" by B.K.S. Iyengar.   Some of these benefits include:
  • Alleviates hypertension
  • Relieves insomnia and soothes the nervous system
  • Improves functioning of the thyroid and parathyroid glands
  • Alleviates chest and nasal complaints (asthma, coughs, cold symptoms)
  • Keeps the reproductive and urinary systems healthy
Sarvangasana should be avoided for people who have diarrhea, and for women who are menstruating.  Also care is needed when practicing this pose with high blood pressure.   Talk to your yoga teacher for more information.

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