So far in this course, we have described various types of asanas: those that twist the spine and those that bend the spine backwards and forwards, as well as standing asanas and meditation asanas, but as yet we have not discussed any asana which inverts the body. In this topic we intend to rectify this situation by describing sarvangasana (shoulder stand pose).
Sarvangasana has beneficial effects on the entire body. It drains stagnant blood from the legs and abdominal organs, thereby increasing the general health of these areas. It tones up the thyroid gland, which again has positive repercussions on the whole body. It improves respiration and massages the organs concerned with digestion, elimination and reproduction and gives many more benefits, which will be discussed subsequently. This asana should be an integral part of every asana program.
Many people who start basic yoga practices are instantly attracted to sirshasana (the headstand pose). They hear that it gives many benefits and therefore immediately feel obliged to practise it. Often they practise sirshasana for too long and their body is insufficiently prepared and full of toxins. Under these circumstances, sirshasana can do more harm than good. It is for this reason that we advise people to practise sarvangasana as a substitute for sirshasana. It gives essentially the same benefits and is far easier to perform. Furthermore, incorrect practice of sarvangasana is less likely to cause harm than incorrect practice of sirshasana. It is a good idea to include at least one inverted asana in your daily practice program, but let it be sarvangasana instead of sirshasana. This applies mainly to beginners. You can start to practise sirshasana when you have purified your body and developed more control of your body and sense of balance.