Sarvangasana: Meaning, Steps, Benefits

Sarvangasana

Introduction

What is Sarvangasana?

How to perform it step by step?

How long should it be practiced?

Can we practice it in the evening? Who should not practice it? Is it dangerous?

What are all the benefits of doing it?

Are you in search of answers for one or more of the questions like these? If yes, you have come to the right place. Yes! This article provides you the answers in detail.

Sarvangasana Information

Pose NameSarvangasana
Sanskrit Nameसर्वाङ्गासन
IASTsarvāṅgāsana
English NameShoulder Stand
OriginMedieval Period
Difficulty LevelIntermediate
TypeInverted Posture
ChakraVishuddhi

Origin and History

This pose was described in Yoga Makaranda of T.Krishnamacharya in the year 1934. It does not mean that it is a modern yoga posture. It is one of the variants of Viparita Karani that was well described in the medieval yoga texts. Though the book was published in1934, shoulder stand was part of his teaching and practice well before its publication.

Moreover, in the year 1924, Sri Kuvalayananda, a yoga researcher and therapist, prescribed Sarvangasana to Mahatma Gandhiji for the treatment of High Blood Pressure. It was a historical sequence of letter correspondence on Sarvangasna between Sri Mahatma Gandhiji and Sri Kuvalayananda.

In 1926, Sri Kuvalayananda published a research article on Sarvangasana in his yoga journal Yoga Mimamsa,

Dr. Paul Brunton in his book titled The Secret Search in India narrates his travel history of India during the nineteen-twenties. He met a yogi in Madras who demonstrated Sarvangasana and explained its benefits.

Swami Sivananda Saraswati described this posture in his book Yoga Asanas, published in the year 1931,

Observing the above points, we may easily conclude that this posture had been in practice by different parts of India. Though classic texts did not describe this posture by its name, we could not call this a modern yoga pose. It was traditionally in practice from the time immemorial, of course without any documentation.

Sarvangasana Meaning

The Sanskrit word Sarva means all. Aṅga means limbs and āsana is a yoga pose. Therefore literally, it means All Limbs Yoga Pose. This is because the performance engages all limbs of the body.

Dr. Paul Brunton calls it All Body Pose. Swami Sivananda calls it All Members Pose.

Sri. S. Mazumdar in his book Yoga Exercises for Health and Cure (1941) calls it Pan Physical Pose.

However, it is popularly known as Shoulder Stand.

Sarvangasana Procedure

Precautions and Contraindications

Pregnant ladies should avoid this posture. Moreover, ladies undergoing menstruation cycles also should stay away from this practice.

Though this practice helps to reduce high blood pressure, the patient should take note of one important point. During the performance of this posture, blood pressure temporarily elevates by 15 to 20 points. It may be harmful to those who have elevated-pressure already. Hence, they should bring down the pressure by some other means before attempting this practice. Or they should consult their doctor.

Furthermore, those who are having health conditions like cardiac issues, stroke, issues in their upper spine and shoulder should also avoid this posture.

Preparatory Poses

Before attempting this posture, getting mastery over the following yoga poses will be more helpful.

Sarvangasana Steps

Step 1

Lie supine on a blanket or yoga mat. Place the hands on sides of the body. Take a couple of deep breaths.

Step 2

Raise the legs vertically and keep them straight. Then raise the buttocks and spine with palms in support of the buttocks. The upper arms should be on the floor and the elbows are folded. Now, the palms and upper arms should share the weight of the body along with the upper spine.

Step 3

The chin and the chest should press each other. Ensure that the legs and lower trunk are in a straight line. Fix the eyesight on the big toes. Breath normally. This is the final position. Keep this position as long as it is comfortable.

Step 4

To release the position, bring down the buttocks first. Then fold the legs horizontally. Finally, bring the whole of the legs down slowly.

Duration

The duration may be thirty seconds to one minute for beginners. Advanced students can practice up to ten minutes. However, they should increase the duration in a phased manner.

Follow Up Poses

It is mandatory to follow up Shoulder Stand with Matsyasana. If for any reason, one could not follow up with it, any one of the following poses may be considered.

Sarvangasana Variations

There are mire than two variants of Shoulder Stand.

Salamba Sarvangasana

Salamba means with support. So it is Shoulder Stand With Support. The pose described above belongs to this type only.

Niralamba Sarvangasana

Shoulder Stand Without Support

Niralamba means without support. Hence it is Shoulder Stand Without Support. The main difference between the two is the position of the hands. In this version, the hands are placed on the backside of the body. In one version, palms are clasped and placed on the floor; whereas, in another version, hands are placed on the floor with palms facing down.

Eka Pada Sarvangasana

Ekapada means single leg. In Single Leg Shoulder Stand, one leg is folded.

eka pada sarvangasana
One Leg Shoulder Stand

Benefits Of Sarvangasana

The benefits of Sarvangasana includes the following

Supports the treatment for Hypertension

This pose helps to reduce high blood pressure. However, during the time of performance, it temporarily increases the blood pressure. Recent studies show that it improves Blood Pressure and Heart Rate. As a result, it improves overall cardiac health. Hence, the practice of this pose can be used as adjunctive therapy for high blood pressure.

Improves Thyroid Health

Thyroid conditions like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism develop as a result of hormonal imbalances. Shoulder stand restores the blood flow to the thyroid region and improves its function. As a result, thyroid health improves. The thyroid hormone is vital for the growth and brain development in younger ones. It is more important for metabolism. Hence the health of thyroid determines the overall health of the body. The regular practice of this posture improves whole-body health.

Moreover, with regular practice, one can easily avoid health conditions like Goiter, thyroiditis, graves diseases, thyroid nodule, thyroid storm, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and even thyroid cancer.

Improves Parathyroid Health

Parathyroid glands control the level of calcium in the blood and bone. Hence the strength of the bone is determined by the health of parathyroid glands. This posture helps to enhance the strength of the bones in the body by stimulating the said glands. Moreover, for healthy brain functions, the level of calcium is more important. Therefore Shoulder Stand helps to improve the brain functions and makes the brain supercharged. As a result, depression is driven out and memory is improved.

Boosts Brain Functions

It increases blood flow to the brain. So it relieves mental stress, depression, and other psychological disturbances. Improved blood flow to the head reenergizes the ears and eyes. This avoids the minor ailments in the head region.

Revitalizes Sexual Functions

This Posture improves conditions like male Erectile Dysfunction and feeble erection. Also, it improves impotence. Moreover, it is good for maintaining celibacy. It revitalizes the organs degenerated by the sexual excesses. It checks wet dreams.

Women Health

For women, it improves ovarian insufficiency. Also, it helps to regularize the periods. This practice restores health impaired by frequent childbirths. It is good for varicose veins due to pregnancy.

Activates Throat Chakra

Regular practice activates the throat center and helps in Kundalini awakening.

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