Shoulderstand - Sarvangasana

Basic Instructions


  1. Lying flat on the back, bring the feet together and stretch the arms behind the head to make sure that there is enough space. The Shoulderstand and following āsanas in this series require that there be at least a foot (30 cm) between the fingertips and the wall when your arms are fully extended. b Return the arms to the floor next to the hips and palms touching the mat. Breathe rhythmically in your abdomen. Keep your head centered.
  2. Keeping your back, head, and neck on the mat, inhale and, with your legs straight, lift them to a 90-degree angle.
  3. Bring the hands onto the buttocks. Gently push the body up by walking the hands down the back. Try not to jump into the position. The hands should support the back with the fingers pointing inwards and the thumbs outwards around the waist. Breathe slowly into your abdomen and relax your feet and legs as much as possible. Keep the head centered.
  4. Continue lifting your body until your legs are in a straight line. You stand on the shoulders with the help and support of the elbows. Bring your chest as close to your chin as possible. Press your chin firmly into the base of your throat and form a chin-lock, jālandhara bandha. Breathe normally in this position. Try to hold it for at least 30 seconds, gradually increasing the time to 3 minutes. While you perform this āsana, the back of the neck, the posterior part of the head, and the shoulders should touch the floor. Do not allow the body to shake or move to and fro. Keep the legs straight. Concentrate on the thyroid gland which lies on the front lower part of the neck. If you feel that the calf muscles are starting to cramp, bend the knees slightly to relieve the tension. After a few seconds, bring the legs straight again.  Intermediate and advanced students should try to straighten the back as much as possible. From time to time, readjust the body by bringing the hands closer to the shoulders and the elbows a bit closer to each other.
  5. Beginners: To come down from the pose, lower your legs to an angle of about 45 degrees over your head, place your hands palms down behind you, then slowly roll out of it, vertebra by vertebra. Breathe normally until your pelvis is touching the floor and then exhale as you use your abdominal muscles to lower your legsslowly to the floor, keeping the knees straight. When the body is completely on the ground, relax in śavāsana (corpse pose).