Shoulderstand: Ways to Prop Up Your Yoga Practice

For many yoga participants, Salamba Sarvangasana can be an intimidating pose and can be challenging to find comfort in. The benefits of shoulder stand are typically attained when this pose is held for a generous length of time, so as an alternative, this supported variation brings much of the same key benefits, but with increased ease and confidence:

  • The inversion of the legs promotes flushing of the lymphatic and circulatory vessels of the legs, thus aiding in the movement of fluids back to the heart.
  • Can elevate swelling and pressure on blood vessels of lower limbs, thus reducing the onset of varicose veins.
  • Calms the brain and nervous system, therefore helps to relieve stress.
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause.

Note, although this is a restorative posture, it may not be suitable for all individuals including those with heavy period of menstruation, high blood pressure, eye or inner ear infection, and medium to late term pregnancy.

Ways to Prop Up Salamba Sarvangasana for Prolonged Circulatory Flow

Halfmoon Yoga Props: Rectangular Bolster, Eye Pillow

  • This gentle inversion reverses the effects of gravity and brings oxygen-rich blood to the vital organs including the brain.
  • Place the bolster at the very base of your spine and, with control, lift the legs to the sky. Readjust the placement of your pelvis on the bolster so that your legs (especially your hip flexors) have minimal engagement and this becomes more restorative.
  • Settle your arms and slide your shoulders under so that you opening your chest.
  • Maintain a light amount of space between the chin and neck so you are readily able to breath and relax the neck. You should feel that the back of your neck retains air and space between it and the mat.
  • This restorative variation of shoulder stand is a backbend preparation so let your pelvis drop downward to bring gentle extension into your lower back.
  • Gently place an eye pillow over the eyes and temples to block out light, relieve tension and calm the muscles around the eye.
  • You can also try this pose with your legs up the wall which adds more support and, for some, an additional stretch to the back of the thighs (Viparita Karani: inverted lake pose or legs-up-the-wall pose).

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