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Half Shoulderstand Yoga Pose – Ardha Sarvangasana

Half Shoulderstand or Ardha Sarvangasana

Ardha Sarvangasana

[are-dah sar-van-GAHS-anna]

Ardha means half. Sarva means all. Anga means limbs. This pose is also called half candlestick. Think of the change of perspective this posture has the potential to inspire and how this can help you escape from the bonds of complacency. Think of the imagery of a candle and how it relates to your experience of this posture. Viparita Karani means inverted action.

Benefits of Half Shoulderstand

  • Strengthens the hips, core muscles and muscles in the pelvis.
  • Stimulates control mechanisms in the heart and arteries along the outside of the neck that monitor and adjust blood pressure.
  • Positively affects the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the spinal cord and brain, flushing regions where the fluid has pooled.

Contraindications

  • People who suffer from neck or shoulder pain may need to avoid this asana.
  • People using blood thinners should be cautious with inversions.
  • People who have suffered a stroke or a heart attack should approach this asana with caution as inversions increase pressure to the head and may cause plaque to move through the veins of the neck into the head.

Step-by-Step

  • Place several folded blankets and/or blocks on the mat.
  • Lie on your back with your hips on a bolster and the rest of your torso resting on four chip foam blocks with your mat folded on top. The upper edge of your shoulders are lined up with the edge of the chip foam blocks. The head rests off the blocks so that your neck can stay in a neutral position.
  • Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the earth.
  • Lift one leg and then the other up off the mat.
  • Hug the right knee toward the armpit (or towards the centre of your chest).
  • Engage your Bandhas as you peel your vertebrae up off the mat in a controlled manner.
  • Press up through the soles of your feet until your torso creates the shape of a V on its side.
  • Place your hands on the small of your back for extra support.
  • Feel all your Bandhas engage as you create more space between your hips and rib cage.
  • Your weight is resting on your shoulders and arms with just a little bit of weight on the back of the head.
  • Feel space in the hip sockets.
  • Notice that all your Bandhas are engaged.
  • Jalandharabandha happens naturally since your chin is pressing downward towards your breastbone.
  • Feel grounding, earth energy coming up through your head, neck, shoulders and upper arms. Feel it spread throughout your torso and into your legs.
  • Feel your lungs breathing deeply and your heart beating in your chest.
  • Engage your core muscles to come out of this pose with control.

Preparatory Poses

Counter Poses