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Supported Shoulderstand

Salamba Sarvangasana

HP_216_SalambaSarvangasana_248.jpg

(sah-LOM-bah sar-van-GAHS-anna)
salamba = with support (sa = with
alamba = support)
sarva = all
anga = limb. There are variations of Shoulderstand that are "unsupported" = niralamba, pronounced near-ah-LOM-bah)

Step by Step

Fold two or more firm blankets into rectangles measuring about 1 foot by 2 feet, and stack them one on top of the other. You can place a sticky mat over the blankets to help the upper arms stay in place while in the pose. Then lie on the blankets with your shoulders supported (and parallel to one of the longer edges) and your head on the floor. Lay your arms on the floor alongside your torso, then bend your knees and set your feet against the floor with the heels close to the sitting bones. Exhale, press your arms against the floor, and push your feet away from the floor, drawing your thighs into the front torso.

Continue to lift by curling the pelvis and then the back torso away from the floor, so that your knees come toward your face. Stretch your arms out parallel to the edge of the blanket and turn them outward so the fingers press against the floor (and the thumbs point behind you). Bend your elbows and draw them toward each other. Lay the backs of your upper arms on the blanket and spread your palms against the back of your torso. Raise your pelvis over the shoulders, so that the torso is relatively perpendicular to the floor. Walk your hands up your back (toward the floor) without letting the elbows slide too much wider than shoulder width.

Inhale and lift your bent knees toward the ceiling, bringing your thighs in line with your torso and hanging the heels down by your buttocks. Press your tailbone toward your pubis and turn the upper thighs inward slightly. Finally inhale and straighten the knees, pressing the heels up toward the ceiling. When the backs of the legs are fully lengthened, lift through the balls of the big toes so the inner legs are slightly longer than the outer.

Soften the throat and tongue. Firm the shoulder blades against the back, and move the sternum toward the chin. Your forehead should be relatively parallel to the floor, your chin perpendicular. Press the backs of your upper arms and the tops of your shoulders actively into the blanket support, and try to lift the upper spine away from the floor. Gaze softly at your chest.

As a beginning practitioner stay in the pose for about 30 seconds. Gradually add 5 to 10 seconds to your stay every day or so until you can comfortably hold the pose for 3 minutes. Then continue for 3 minutes each day for a week or two, until you feel relatively comfortable in the pose. Again gradually and 5 to 10 seconds onto your stay every day or so until you can comfortably hold the pose for 5 minutes. To come down, exhale, bend your knees into your torso again, and roll your back torso slowly and carefully onto the floor, keeping the back of your head on the floor.


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Reader Comments

Elizabeth

If your elbows and wrists are hurting, you may be tilting your legs/back a bit and/or are putting too much pressure into your arms. I'd work on core strengthening to help you hold the pose with ease. Your arms are there to support your back and help straighten it, not to hold all of the weight. You can also try bending your knees and bringing them towards your ears to release some of the pressure. Or simply lay on your back with your legs up the wall to get the same benefit.

rs

just not able to do this. I am able to do wheel, etc. My teacher tells me that my wrists are not too strong, it hurts in my elbows when i am doing this. i am able to lift my legs up etc. do it with the help of a wall. But i am not able to retain the position. I feel like the entire body may invert and my neck will be sprained. How do i overcome this fear...
?

Lina

Edna-
I too, have a sensitive neck. What probably happened is something caught your eye to the side of you and you looked one way or the other. The cervical spine is highly sensitive, especially in this pose, and even the smallest movement can cause pain. I don't know much about hormone therapy but I'm betting it was something as simple as turning your head. I would recommend staying away from shoulder stand for a while and then gradually come back, starting with plow and working your way up.

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