Shoulderstand! In yoga-speak, it’s the Queen to the King Headstand. Some people (my sister) are afraid of shoulderstand, because of its “wind-releasing” properties. Some people don’t like it because their cores aren’t strong enough to hold it comfortably, or because they have stiff or painful necks. But, that’s why you should do it, and someone’s made a cute little series for it that you can use at home: 75-minute intermediate focus on shoulders and shoulderstand.
Let’s turn again to this funny site out of Toronto for a description of the pose, and its many alleged benefits. Yeah, do it today!
This is a mysterious Asana which gives wonderful benefits. Spread a thick blanket on the floor and practise this Asana on the blanket. Lie on the back quite flat. Slowly raise the legs. Lift the trunk, hips, and legs quite vertically. Support the back with the two hands, one on either side. Rest the elbows on the ground. Press the chin against the chest (Jalandhara Bandha). Allow the back-shoulder portion and neck to touch the ground closely. Do not allow the body to shake or move to and fro. Keep the legs straight. When the Asana is over, bring the legs down very, very slowly with elegance and not with any jerks. In this Asana the whole weight of the body is thrown on the shoulders. You really stand on the shoulders with the help and support of the elbows. Concentrate on the Thyroid gland which lies on the front lower part of the neck. Retain the breath as long as you can do with comfort, and slowly exhale through the nose.
You can do this Asana twice daily, morning and evening. This should immediately be followed by Matsyasana (fish-posture). This will relieve pains in the back part of the neck and intensify the usefulness of Sarvangasana. Stand on the Asana for two minutes and gradually increase the period to half an hour.
This is a panacea, a cure-all, a sovereign specific for all diseases. It brightens the psychic faculties and awakens Kundalini Sakti, removes all sorts of diseases of intestine and stomach, and augments the mental power.
It supplies a large quantity of blood to the roots of spinal nerves. It is this Asana which centralises the blood in the spinal column and nourishes it beautifully. But for this Asana there is no scope for these nerve-roots to draw sufficient blood-supply. It keeps the spine quite elastic. Elasticity of the spine means everlasting youth. It stimulates you in your work. It prevents the spine from early ossification (hardening). So you will preserve and retain your youth for a long time. It helps a lot in maintaining Brahmacharya. Like Sirshasana, it makes you an Oordhvaretas. It checks wet-dreams effectively. It rejuvenates those who have lost their potency. It acts as a powerful blood-tonic and purifier. It tones the nerves and awakens Kundalini. Spinal column is rendered very soft and elastic. This Asana prevents the early ossification of the vertebral bones. Ossification is quick degeneration of bones. Old age manifests quickly on account of early ossification. The bones become hard and brittle in the degenerative process. He who practises Sarvangasana is very nimble, agile, full of energy. The muscles of the back are alternately contracted, relaxed and then pulled and stretched. Hence they draw a good supply of blood by these various movements and are well nourished. Various sorts of myalgia (muscular rheumatism), lumbago, sprain, neuralgia, etc., are cured by this Asana.
The vertebral column becomes as soft and elastic as rubber. It is twisted and rolled as it were like a piece of canvas sheet. A man who practises this Asana can never become lazy even a bit. He is a two-legged talking squirrel. The vertebral column is a very important structure. It supports the whole body. It contains the spinal cord, spinal nerve and sympathetic system. In Hatha Yoga the spine is termed as Meru Danda. Therefore you must keep it healthy, strong and elastic. The muscles of the abdomen, the rectic muscles and the muscles of the thigh are also toned and nourished well. Obesity or corpulence and habitual chronic constipation, Gulma, congestion and enlargement of the liver and spleen are cured by this Asana.
More if you’re interested: Extended description with tips for neck pain, by Barbara Benag.