Yoga Pose Breakdown: Salamba Sarvangasana – Supported Shoulderstand

Sanskrit Name: Salamba Sarvangasana (sah-LOM-bah sar-van-GAHS-anna)
Salamba = With Support (sa = with
Alamba = Support)
Sarva = All
Anga = Limb
Asana = Pose 

Get Started:

  • Start with the option of folding a blanket under your back
  • Lie either on your blanket or on your mat with your shoulders supported and your head on the floor
  • Position your arms on the floor alongside your torso, and then bend your knees and set your feet against the floor with your heels close to you sitting bones
  • Press your arms against the floor as you push your feet away from the floor
  • Draw your knees toward your face as you lift your legs
  • As you lift your legs, place your hands on your lower back, allowing your fingers to face the sky
  • Bend your elbows and squeeze your elbows toward one another
  • Raise your pelvis over your shoulders, so it is perpendicular to the floor
  • Slowly lengthen your torso as you extend your legs straight toward the sky
  • Press the balls of your feet up
  • Firm your shoulders down your back
  • Keep your gaze fixed at the sky and do not move your neck

Benefits: Shoulderstand calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression while stimulating the thyroid, prostate glands and abdominal organs. It stretches the shoulders and neck, bones the legs and buttocks, and improves digestion. It also helps relieve the symptoms of menopause, reduces fatigue and alleviates insomnia, while also being therapeutic for asthma, infertility and sinusitis. 

Contradictions: Avoid this pose if you have diarrhea, high blood pressure or a neck injury. If you have a headache or are menstruating, you may also want to skip this one. If you are pregnant, feel free to practice with support if you already have this pose down. 

Know Your Asana: This pose is considered to be an intermediate to advanced pose. Do not perform this pose without prior experience or unless you have the supervision of an instructor.

Photo: iStock