Yoga Poses

Shoulderstand Sarvangasana


Begin in savasana, reclining on the back. Engage the abdominal muscles and raise the legs vertical, peeling the back away from the floor to bring the hips over the shoulders. Place the hands on either side of the waist below the rib cage and lift up through the torso, pointing the toes.To exit the pose, bring the toes to the ground behind the head (plough pose) and roll slowly down to start pose.

Teacher Queues

Visualization Comments

This pose is an intermediate/advanced inversion pose to calm the nervous system and strengthen the legs. The full weight of the body is on the shoulders, instead of the legs and feet. So awareness is on the sensation of the torso and legs suspended in air. To get the most from this pose, invite your students to imagine themselves attached to the arches of the feet. Use phrases such root the shoulders down, lift up through the torso and imagine a golden string pulling your legs and torso upwards into the sky.

Technical Comments

From the start pose, ensure that head, shoulders, hips and legs are in alignment. The back should be relaxed and abdominals engaged. Press the palms into the mat and contract the abdominal muscles to raise the legs. When legs are vertical, place the hands on side waist below the rib cage to support the spine. The elbows should be shoulder-width apart, the chest pressing toward the chin. The legs should be straight with feet together and touching.

Benefit Comments

  • Stimulates the thyroid gland
  • Improves circulatory, respiratory, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems
  • Calms the nervous system
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Stimulates parathyroid, stimulating bone growth
  • Strengthens and tones abdominals, legs and back muscles
  • Relieves pressure from hemorrhoids
  • Improves flexibility of neck and upper spine

Watch Out For:

  • Shoulder or neck pain (come out of the pose)


  • Enlarged thyroid, liver or spleen
  • High blood pressure
  • Back injuries
  • Menstruation and pregnancy


  • Prep pose (back flat on ground, legs raised vertical)
  • ½ Shoulder stand (Legs raised 45°)
  • Legs up the wall
  • Chair style (lay with lower legs across chair, hand holding chair legs.  Hold there or lift hips up to seat and lean legs on chair back)


  • From shoulder stand final pose, lower one leg horizontal (over body). Raise and repeat other side
  • From shoulder stand final pose, lower both leg horizontal (over body).  Bend one knee to nose. Straighten and repeat other side
  • From shoulder stand final pose, fold one leg into ½ lotus. Hold or fold the other, performing full lotus in shoulder stand.

Yoga Counter Poses

  • Fish pose (Matseyandra )
  • Corpse pose (Savasana)
  • Plough pose (Halasana)

Written By: Brenda Hamlet

Brenda Hamlet, is teacher and journalist in Oxford, England. More information about Brenda can be found at

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