Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose) – Mistakes to avoid

One should take care to avoid the following errors:

  • Don’t do the asana too quickly like a physical jerk. The movement of the body during raising and lowering should be slow, graceful, controlled and without sudden spasms. Many people forcefully propel themselves into tbe final position and nearly break their necks in the process. Slowly elevate the legs and raise the body, being aware of the operation of each relevant muscle and the progressive movement of the body. The same applies to the lowering of the body. The legs should touch the floor in the same way that a falling leaf would touch the ground.
  • Don’t raise the head off the floor throughout the entire practice.
  • Don’t tense the legs in the final pose; let them relax and don’t point the feet. This is important, for tension of the legs implies contraction of muscles, which prevents free drainage of blood from the legs.
  • Don’t hold the legs perfectly vertical in the final pose if this requires muscular effort. Ideally the legs should be vertical but this does not suit the constitution of every person. If you find it easier to hold the pose comfortably by inclining the legs over the top of the head, then by all means do so. In fact, if you find that you can more easily press the chest against the chin by suspending the legs over the head, we recommend that you adopt this pose. However, there has to be a compromise; don’t incline your legs too far over your head for you will be doing another asana and not sarvangasana. Your legs should be reasonably vertical, but so that you feel comfortable in the final pose.
  • The chest (sternum or jugular notch) should be pressed against the chin, but without straining the neck. This is an important aspect of the asana. Without doing this, the asana loses many of its benefits for the blood flow is not directed specifically towards the thyroid gland. However, if your neck is stiff, then you may find a little difficulty in doing this. Don’t strain or force, but slowly loosen the neck joints and stretch the associated muscles over a period of weeks. Often, however, people are unable to press the chest against the chin because they don’t raise the trunk as vertically as it should be. In this case, the arms should be used to further elevate the trunk, and the hands should be placed lower down at the back of the chest near the shoulders.
  • The chin should not be pressed towards the chest. The chest should be pressed towards the chin. This is important.
  • Keep the legs straight and together throughout the entire practice. There is no need to separate or bend them.

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