Shoulderstand is considered one of the most beneficial postures of yoga. It is both energizing and soothing – it brings equanimity to its practitioner. Over the past three years, I have written several posts on its advantages. Here is a concise summary of why you should be practicing it.
#1 It shifts your perspective.
Like headstand, shoulderstand is an inversion. Turning upside down allows us to change our orientation and our point of view. Shoulderstand can certainly change your level of focus. Being upside down, even for a relatively short period, clears your perspective and creates a sense of calmness.
Taking the feet above the heart also reverses the flow of blood, lymph and oxygen throughout the body. Therefore, this posture has a tremendous effect on the body as a whole.
#2 It balances the Throat Chakra.
Lately, I have been gravitating more and more to the chakras in my yoga practice. The chakric system is part of the subtle body – the innermost layer of our being. Acknowledging and exploring the subtle body feels like a natural progression on the path that is yoga. After 30 plus years, this is what keeps me on the pursuit: the seemingly endless levels of yoga and how amazing the discoveries continue to be.
The Sanskrit name for the throat chakra is Vishudda which translates to “especially pure.” Since there are a plethora of lymph nodes surrounding the throat region, this area is particularly important for body purification. Shoulderstand can flush the lymph nodes and refresh the systems of the physical body. But it can also target the subtle level of the throat chakra. As command central, the throat chakra needs to remain moderate – not too closed off nor too wide open. When it is truly balanced, we feel confident and able to produce thoughtful speech both outside our bodies and inside our heads. Relaxing this area through asana, chanting, and pranayama will keep it in tip top shape so that your channels – for body, mind and spirit – are clear.
Look here to find ways to steady your Vishudda chakra.
#3 Because it is the queen of all yoga postures!
This isn’t really just one reason. But, I will never forget this definition. As cited in BKS Iyengar’s Light on Yoga, there are so many benefits of this posture that Iyengar labelled it the queen of yoga asana. Bringing his book to class, I would often just read the shoulderstand paragraph because it was unbelievable how many aliments and body systems benefit from this pose.
In summary, shoulderstand provides:
- Increased blood flow to the head – for improved brain function and vitality
- Regulation of sleep patterns
- Enhanced digestion and circulatory systems
- Strengthened respiratory system and immune function
Please keep in mind that a full shoulderstand should be approached with the assistance of a qualified instructor. It requires appropriate strength, correct alignment and lots of guidance and preparation. Performing this pinnacle posture may not be accessible for all – at least not right away.
See my previous post for ways to begin the practice of shoulderstand – Go Upside Down. ☯️