The Sanskrit word sarvangasana is made up of three separate words: sarva, anga and asana.
The word sarva means ‘whole’, ‘all’ or ‘entire’, the word anga means ‘limbs’, ‘parts’, ‘organs’ or ‘members’. Sarvangasana is so called because it is an asana which influences the whole body and its functions. The Sanskrit name is perfect, as it exactly describes the fact that the asana affects the entire human organism. This total effect is achieved mainly by harmonizing the endocrinal system, especially the thyroid gland. This subject will be described shortly.
The most common English name of the asana is ‘shoulder stand pose’. It has various other names, including salamba sarvangasana (supported shoulder stand pose) and the pan-physical pose.