Sarvangasana (pronounced SAHR-vahn-GAH-sah-nah) is a great inversion that stimulates the thyroid gland and the Mercury chakra (located in the throat). It reverses the pull of gravity on your internal organs and reduces the strain on your heart, because your heart doesn't have to work as hard to pump to the extremities when inverted. The shoulderstand helps with varicose veins; purifies the blood; nourishes the brain, lungs, and heart; strengthens the eyesight; and is a great headache remedy.
1. Lie flat on the floor, then bring both legs and hips up in the air. Lift up by contracting your abdominal and buttocks muscles; don't just swing your legs up. Although a little bit of a swing can help you get up there, let your muscles do most of the work.
2. Support your lower back with your hands so your upper arms are resting on the floor behind you, your elbows are bent, and your hands rest on your back with your fingers facing inward, toward your spine.
3. Bring your shoulders away from your ears, and push your feet toward the ceiling, almost as if you were hanging by your feet. Breathe! (You'll probably notice that breathing feels different upside down.)
4. Getting Started: If you can't get up into a shoulderstand, don't force it. First practice the shoulderstand by bringing your legs back, as in the first drawing, then holding there for a while to accustom your body to the inversion. To protect your neck, it is best to go up into a full shoulderstand, especially the first time, under the guidance of an instructor. Typical problems during a shoulder-stand are the tendency to crunch the neck, hold the breath, and twist the neck. Think of your neck lengthening as you hold the pose. Put a folded towel or blanket under your neck, right at the tip of your shoulders. Breathe! Don't allow your elbows to slide outward, and keep your neck lengthened and your feet together.
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