Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand)

The supported Sarvangasana is an inversion, the body is inverted and resting on the shoulders and forearm. It has been referred to by B.K.S. Iyengar and others as the mother of all asanas. It is said that if there were just one asana you could practice a day, an inversion such as the shoulder stand would be it.

Below are the muscles, organs, benefits, contradictions and modifications for this asana.

Muscles

  • Transverse, psoas, obliques and rectus abdominis are engaged to keep spine straight
  • Neck muscles are neutral and relaxed
  • Vastus lateralis and medialis keep the knee extended
  • Leg adductors and hamstrings are engaged to keep the legs straight
  • Gluteus maximus is lightly engaged to extend the hips upward and hold them steady
  • Trapezius elevates the scapulae
  • Teres minor and infraspinatus externally rotate the top of the humerus
  • Teres major and the long head of the triceps extend the shoulder and adduct the arms
  • Posterior deltoid extends the arms
  • Biceps brachii and brachialis flex the elbow and supinate the forearm

Organs

  • Improves bowel movement and therefore digestion
  • Stimulates the lymphatic system
  • Massages the thyroid and parathyroid gland
  • Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system
  • Reduces blood pressure in the legs relieving varicose veins
  • Relieves gravitational pressure on the organs
  • Improves circulation to the brain

Benefits

  • Boosts immunity
  • Increases self-confidence
  • Calms anger and nervousness
  • Relieves depression
  • Reduces insomnia
  • Stimulates the Vishuddha chakra, improving communication and hearing

Contraindications

  • Menstruation
  • High blood pressure
  • Neck pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Detached retina
  • Pregnancy

Modification

  • A blanket can be placed under the neck to provide added support, preventing pressure on the vertebrae
  • Press the feet into the wall, with the knees at a 90-degree angle

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