Lie on your back with your arms by the side of your body (palms down)
Inhale pressing your hands into the floor, lift your legs up perpendicular to your body (so your toes are pointing to the ceiling) -if you need to bend the knees to do this that is fine-
Exhale bring the legs behind your head (bend the knees if you need to) so that the back and hips are coming up off the floor.
Bend the elbows (keeping them as close to each other as possible) and place the hands on the back.
Inhale raise the directly over head, supporting the back with the arms and hands. Keep the feet together and the toes pointing to the ceiling. (you may not have a completely straight body to begin with, but work on bringing you hands further down your back to allow you to get more lift)
Relax your throat and tongue, and open your shoulders back so that they are taking the weight and not the top of your spine. Squeeze your thighs together and engage you abdominal muscles.
Hold for as long as your feel comfortable and can breathe properly.
To exit the posture to lying down: Exhale bringing the feet behind the head again (bend the knees if necessary)
Inhale bring the arms down to the side of the body, using the hands as breaks.
Exhale SLOWLY roll the back down onto your mat, bringing the legs down last. (Or see halasana (plough posture) for an alternative exit).
Place a folded blanket or cushion under your neck
Practice near a wall
If the headstand is the ‘king of all asanas’ the shoulder stand is the queen… They share lots of the same benefits, and again the list seems to be endless but I will list a few of the main ones.
Stretches the shoulders and neck
Tones the legs, buttocks, and abdomen
Regulates metabolism digestion (if it is too slow OR too fast)
Calms the brain and helps to relieve stress and mild depression
Stimulates the thyroid (T3 and T4 hormones) helping with weight issues.
Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
Reduces fatigue and alleviates insomnia
Helps to reduce varicose veins
Alleviates chronic headaches and migraines
Can be used to treat asthma, infertility, and sinusitis
High blood pressure (just come to 1/2 shoulder stand with the hands supporting the hips not the upper back)
Menstruation (just bring the legs perpendicular to the floor, don’t lift the hips)
Pregnancy: If experienced with this pose, can continue to practice it late into pregnancy. Don’t take up the practice of Sarvangasana after you become pregnant.
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