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A shoulder stand a day keeps the doctor away

The shoulder stand, sarvangasana in Sanskrit, is known to be the ‘queen of all the asanas.’ Sarva translates into ‘all’ or ‘entire’, anga into ‘body’. Therefore sarvangasana literally means ‘the pose of the entire body’. This asana is widely known for its beneficial effects on the body and has been described by BKS Iyengar to be a “panacea for most common ailments”.

In this pose the body is held in an inverted position with the chin locked to the chest. The effects are to balance the endocrine, circulatory, reproductive, digestive and nervous systems of the body.

shoulder standThe chin lock held during the asana creates a very powerful effect in the thyroid gland, which is located at the pit of the throat. Blood supply is increased to this area allowing the thyroid to regulate, balance and restore its function.

As the body is inverted during sarvangasana it allows blood flow to circulate to the head and chest area. This gives a wonderful effect to the eyes, ears, nose and throat, helping to eradicate ailments – most notably headaches and the common cold. This asana also allows the lungs to relax, inducing abdominal breathing. This breathing style helps the breath to deepen and flow at a more relaxed pace, creating a massaging effect on the abdominal organs, and benefiting those who suffer from breathing difficulties such as palpitations, bronchitis and asthma.

Sarvangasana is also known for its beneficial effects on the digestive organs. The change in body gravity helps to relieve constipation, indigestion, dyspepsia as well as other gastro-intestinal disorders. It is commonly recommended for those who suffer from disorders of the urinary tract and menstrual system, helping to regulate menstrual flow and creating a soothing effect on cramps.

Regular practise of this posture gives a rejuvenating effect to tired legs and feet, relieving tension as stagnant fluids are drained and circulation is increased.

There are innumerable restorative effects of this posture. Adopting sarvangasana into your daily yoga practice can potentially aid in the neutralization of the body’s toxins by purifying the blood, rejuvenating the body and mind, allowing your entire system to be re-energized and leaving you feeling calm, fresh, light and full of vitality. So by adding sarvangasana to your practice you really can help to keep the doctor at bay.

About the author

Emma MalarkeyWhen she isn’t studying yoga in India or exploring the world, Emma Malarkey teaches at Azul Yoga & Pilates Retreat always bringing back new inspiration for the team and guests. Her wide ranging yoga experience means her personal practice and teaching style incorporates many different styles, including traditional hatha, tantra, Mysore ashtanga, sivananda, iyengar, vinyasa, and more modern forms such as yin yoga and Bikram.