Finding Joy in Movement

Sarvangasana/ Shoulderstand

Shoulderstand is a great rejuvinating pose that helps boost your immune system, increases circulation, and helps tone the muscles of the body. If you experience high blood pressure, proceed with caution in shoulderstand (and in all inversions) or skip it entirely. There are a number of ways to get into the pose, we will just explore one here.

Start by laying down on your back. You can put some blankets underneath so that the shoulders line up with the edges of the blankets and the head rests on the floor. This helps to relieve some of the neck flexion in the pose and will allow most people to find a more upright final position. With the arms down by your side, bend the knees and curl the back up off the floor. Some people prefer to keep their legs straight and come in to plow pose here. Either way is just fine though bent knees can make it a bit easier. As you come up, keep the abdominals engaged to prevent the back from rounding too much. You want the spine to stay as straight as possible.

Roll the shoulder underneath one at a time and draw the elbows in toward each other. Place the hands on the back with the fingers pointing up toward the sacrum. As you continue to lift the hips over the shoulders, move the hands up the back (closer to the floor) and open the chest and front of the shoulders. Be careful here, as the more vertical you are able to become in the torso, the more flexion occurs at the neck. The cervical spine (the neck) should not touch the floor and weight should be over the shoulders, not the neck.

Extend the legs up toward the ceiling so that they are in line with the torso. Tuck the tailbone and roll the thighs lightly inward. The legs and core should be active here to maintain alignment. Gently press the upper arms into the floor and try to find a feeling of lightness in the torso and legs. You might imagine that there is a rope around your ankles, gently pulling you up toward the ceiling. Press the back of the arms into the mat and bring the sternum toward the chin. Try and hold for at least 30 seconds, increasing the amount of time as you become more comfortable in the pose. To come down, bend the knees and bring them in toward the chest, then extend the arms on the mat and gently roll your way back onto your spine. Spend a few rounds of breath in Fish as a counter pose.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you or see you at one of my classes!

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