Shoulder Stand Pose (Salamba Sarvangasana)

Shoulder Stand Pose, Salamba Sarvangasana, (saa-lum-buh suh-rvaa-ngaa-suh-nuh)

sa (with) + alamba (support) + sarva (all) + anga (limb) + asana (pose)

Also Known as: Supported Shoulderstand, Kandrasana

Pose Type: Inversion, Stretching, Strengthening, Balancing

Difficulty: Intermediate

a woman doing shoulder stand with a blanket

Challenge gravity as you come into this beginner’s inversion

shoulder stand Pose Fundamentals

This pose can look intimidating to budding yogis new to inversions. First of all, what even is an inversion? Inversions in yoga are poses where the heart and hips are above the head. Unlike its more stable cousin pose Downward Dog, which is surprisingly also an inversion, shoulder stand can seem like a daunting, fancy, complicated pose to get into.

The amazing news is that, with proper alignment, awareness of the neck, and patience, anyone can reap the benefits of what revered yoga master B. K. S. Iyengar referred to as, “the Mother of asanas”. As a mother lovingly tends to her home, shoulder stand lovingly tends to the mind and body, bringing total happiness and harmony home.

This pose targets the entire body from the neck to the tips of the toes creating vigor and strength. Mindfully come into shoulder stand any time you are needing an energy boost, to refresh the body after a long day of sitting, or to melt away stress. However it serves you, have patience and grace with yourself as you learn the great and powerful shoulder stand!

shoulder stand Pose Benefits

  • Aids in reducing headaches.
  • Helps with digestion or stomach pain.
  • Stimulates fresh blood flow to the neck, chest, and heart.
  • Stretches and creates space in the neck and shoulders.
  • Can help relieve symptoms of breathlessness or anxiety.

How To Do shoulder stand Pose: Step-By-Step

How To Get There:

1. Stack two blankets on top of one another and position your shoulders 2-3 inches away from the edge. Your neck and skull should align with the edge of the blankets. Come to lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart and knees pointing up towards the sky. Stack knees over the ankles. Root down through the soles of your feet.

2. Bring your heels in closer to your sitting bones. You should be able to graze your heels with your fingertips. Root down through all four corners of the feet.

3. Snuggle the shoulder blades together and open up through the chest. Root the palms down on the floor.

4. From your core, push your feet into the earth and lift your knees up towards the chest. Knees come toward the face. Bring the hands to support the low back here. Draw the shoulder blades together. Connect to your breath. Feel the stretch in the back body.

5. Slowly start to lift one leg up and straighten it to your best ability followed by the other. Energize through the feet. Point and flex your toes up to the sky creating a full-body sensation.

6. Chest reaches toward the chin and the chin reaches up to the sky. The gaze is on the chest.

7. Stay here for 2-6 breaths being cautious not to dump into the neck. To come out of the pose gently bring the knees back to the chest and slowly roll down.

Tips And Tricks:

  • Play with straightening one leg and alternating between the two before straightening both up to the sky.
  • Try not to force your legs into a straight line on top of the torso if you are tight in the hamstrings or still building strength in the shoulders.

shoulder stand Pose Variation:

Shoulder Stand Variation: Shoulder Stand With Legs Up The Wall

Use a wall to help you ease into shoulder stand and support you. Set your blankets about a foot or so away from the wall and come onto your shoulders. Bring the soles of the feet to press into the wall, stacking knees over hips and ankles over knees. Slowly straighten each leg and practice supporting your back with your hands.

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common Misalignments

As the name implies, the shoulders are the foundation of this pose, not the neck. Be very careful not to crash onto the neck by creating a strong foundation with the shoulders.

Keep the bottom of the rib cage open to allow for an unobstructed diaphragm and smooth breathing.

Do not turn the head when in this pose to protect the neck.

Neck injury

If you are recovering from any type of injury it is best to skip this pose as it will apply pressure to the cervical spine (neck).

Shoulder Injury

The shoulders are the base of this pose, if suffering from any shoulder injury please do not practice this pose.

Related Poses

Bridge Pose

Plow Pose

Unsupported Shoulder Stand

Preparatory Poses:

Legs up the wall

Knees to chest

Counter Poses:

Fish Pose

Supine twist

Camel Pose

yogajala break 1000 × 40 px 1

For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.

Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.

Anna Novelo

Anna Novelo

Anna is a freelance lifestyle writer and yoga teacher currently living in sunny San Diego, California. She uses the tools of storytelling and yoga to convey a message of hope and inspiration. Her mission is to make the tools of yoga accessible to as many people as possible especially those in underrepresented communities.

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