Sarvangasana - Best Guide to learn inversion step by step
Updated: Apr 4, 2021
What is Sarvangasana?
Sarvangasana is an inversion posture, this is also called shoulder stand as the body is balanced on shoulders.
Sarva means all, Anga means limbs and Asana is Posture.
Sarvangasana is a yoga posture that can be practiced by anyone but initially, there is a difficulty in lifting legs from the floor and keeping it perpendicular balancing on the shoulder.
It is possible to lift the legs easily when we have some core strength which can be gained by:
Practicing standing postures to gain strength and stamina.
Some postures like the virabhadrasana series are known to strengthen the core which could be of great help if one is intending to do the Sarvangasana.
The practice of Surya namaskar or sun salutation helps to engage the shoulders muscles and strengthens them which is essential while balancing your body on the shoulders.
Navasana held for long-duration tones the abdominal muscles which helps in lifting the legs up.
How to do Sarvangasana:
Lie flat on the back on the mat keeping the legs stretched out, tightened at the knee. Place the hands by the side of the legs, palms facing floor. Take a few deep breaths.
Exhale, bend the knees, and move the legs towards the stomach till the thighs come in contact with it. Take two breaths.
Raise the hips from the floor with an exhalation and rest the hands on them by bending the arms at the elbows. Take two breaths.
Exhale, raise the trunk up at 90 degrees supported by the hands until the chest touches the chin.
Now only the back of the neck, the shoulders, and the back of the arms up to the elbows should rest on the floor. Place the hands in the middle of the spine. Take two breaths.
Exhale, and stretch the legs straight with the toes pointing up.
Stay in this position for a minimum of one minute or the stay can be extended up to 5 minutes.
Exhale, gradually slide down, release the hands, lie flat and relax.
Sarvangasana steps for Advanced learners:
Lie flat on back on the Yoga mat
Keep the legs stretched out, tightened at the knees. Place the hands by the side of the legs, palms down.
Take a few deep breaths. Exhale slowly and at the same time raise both legs together and bring them perpendicular to the body. Remain in this position and inhale, keeping the legs steady.
Exhale, again raise the legs further up by lifting the hips and the back from the floor, pressing the palms gently against the floor.
When the whole trunk is raised off the ground, bend the elbows and place the palms on the back of the ribs, resting the shoulders well on the floor.
Utilize the palm pressure and raise the trunk and legs up vertically so that the collar bone presses the chin to form a firm chin lock. The contraction of the throat and pressing the chin against the breast bone to form a firm chin lock is called Jalandhara bandha.
Remember to bring the chest forward to touch the chin and not to bring the chin towards the chest. If the latter is done, the spine is not flexed completely and the full effect of the asana will not be felt.
7. Only the back of the head and neck, the shoulders, and the upper portion of the arms up to the elbows should rest well on the floor. The rest of the body should be in one straight line, perpendicular to the floor. This is the final position.
8. Stay in the pose for a minimum of one minute and with experience can be extended up to 5 minutes.
Keypoints to hold the posture with precision:
Initially, during practice, there is a tendency for the legs to swing out of the perpendicular. To avoid this tighten the thigh muscles and stretch up vertically.
The elbows must not flare outside so maintain the elbow distance the same as shoulder width, this enables you to keep your legs straight due to proper support.
Ensure that the neck is straight and chin locked against the sternum. If the neck is moved sideways there is a good chance to get neck pain.
Benefits of Sarvangasana:
Sarvangasana is called queen of asana due to the major health benefits we derive when practiced regularly. Also, this posture is the best alternative for Sirshasana ( Headstand )
Endocrine system: The function of the endocrine system is to secrete the right amount of hormones for the proper functioning of a balanced and well-developed body and brain.
One of the glands in the endocrine system is the thyroid gland which looks similar to a butterfly and this gland is located at the base of your neck.
It releases hormones that control metabolism and also it regulates vital body functions like-
Breathing, heart rate, body weight, menstrual cycle, and much more.
If the thyroid is not functioning properly a person is said to have Hyperthyroidism( Excess secretion ) or hypothyroidism (Less secretion ). This may result in health trouble like Anxiety, insomnia, Excess weight or underweight, Tiredness and fatigue, hair fall.
Turning the body upside down increases blood circulation to the thyroid gland. Pressing the chin against the thyroid gland impedes the outward flow of blood, thus damming up the blood. This blood overflow supplies the gland with such an abundance of nutrients.
The Sarvangasana is known to activate the thyroid gland which helps in the right amount of hormone secretion and helps in resolving the thyroid issues.
Good for Circulation: It is not surprising to say that when we are standing upright our bodies are subjected to Gravity. But what usually we do not analyze is that the blood and organs in our body are also subjected to Gravity. Our bodies are manageable to function with gravity. Normally there are few areas in which gravity can be a hindrance.
For example, work is required to return blood and lymph ( fluid similar to blood plasma carrying white blood cells) to your heart from your feet through the venous system. In fact, gravity could be the foremost reason for causing venous disease.
For this reason, turning upside down like in Sarvangasana can be useful to the body.
Our heart, which is situated in the chest cavity, is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to different parts of the body through arteries and receiving deoxygenated blood carrying waste products ( Carbon dioxide ) through veins.
Since the heart location is high up in the body when standing upright, there can be problems with the deoxygenated blood carrying through veins returning to the heart against the force of gravity.
When this system fails to work properly, there are several health consequences like varicose veins, swollen feet and legs, blockage in the pulmonary artery.
Since the body is inverted in Sarvangasana the venous blood flows to the heart without any strain by force of gravity. The oxygenated blood is again carried back to all parts after doing this asana.
Improves Respiration: Continued practice of this asana gives relief from common cold and nasal disturbances. This posture is known to cure major diseases like asthma, palpitation, bronchitis, and throat ailments. Also, the inversion poses like Sarvangasana and Shirsasana are known to Strengthen the diaphragm. Breathing in upside down helps us to breathe better.
Improves immunity: Inversion posture helps to stimulate lymphatic cleansing and drainage which clears toxins from tissues and plays a vital role in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the immune system.
Boosts the brain: When the brain lacks a sufficient supply of blood, the body becomes slow and sluggish because the brain uses only 25 percent of the body's oxygen. Increasing blood flow nourishes brain cells with more oxygen resulting in improved concentration, memory, and awareness.
People suffering from High blood pressure must not practice this asana.
Avoid doing this posture if you have neck pain or neck injuries.
All topsy turvy poses must be done with great care and must avoid the jerk movements.
The beginners can break down the steps and do them step by step without attempting in a hurry.
The duration to hold the pose initially must be restricted to 20 seconds later can be increased up to 5 minutes.
The importance of Sarvangasana cannot be overemphasized.
It is one of the greatest gifts conferred on humanity by our ancient sages.
Sarvangasana is the queen of asana. It is a solution for most common ailments.