Pose of the Week: Half Shoulder Stand (Ardha Survangasana)

Ardha Survangasana (pronounced ard-hah sahr-vahn-gah-sah-nah), also commonly known as Half Shoulder Stand, is an inversion that is great for beginners! Half Shoulder Stand  is an excellent pose to help prepare yogis for full shoulder stand.

Ardha Survangasana has many benefits, such as improving blood and cerebral-spinal fluid flow to the brain, which stimulates mental functions.  The pose improves memory, concentration and can relieve headaches.  Half shoulder stand nourishes the facial skin, scalp and hair roots.  Edema may be relieved by improved lymphatic and fluid circulation in the legs.  The development of varicose veins may be prevented due to improved venous circulation.  Blood is able to flow from the legs and torso to the heart without physical strain.

Ardha Survangasana relieves prolapse (a condition where organs fall down or slip out of place) of the kidneys, stomach, intestines and uterus.  The pose tones reproductive glands, which helps maintain youthful vitality.  Half shoulder stand strengthens abdominal muscles, stimulates and decongests abdominal organs and relieves constipation. Blood and other fluid movement is increased to the neck and throat, helping to balance the function of the thyroid and parathyroid glands, which can then help with weight maintenance.  When in this pose, diaphragmatic breathing is encouraged, which can alleviate asthma and other respiratory problems.

While Half Shoulder Stand pose has many health advantages, it should be avoided if one has uncontrolled high or low blood pressure; pregnancy (after 1st trimester); chronic nasal, sinus or thyroid disorders; recent or chronic shoulder, neck or back injury or inflammation; detached retina, weak eye capillaries, conjunctivitis or any infection or inflammation of the eye(s); or any infection or inflammation of the ears.

How to perform Ardha Survangasana:

1. Lying on your back with the arms along side the body with the palms down, bend the knees and kick and rock the legs up and back, bringing the bent knees to the forehead and placing the hands under the hips.

2. Cupping the hips like you are holding a big bowl of fruit, begin to lift the legs up, straightening them over your head. Support the weight of the body with the arms and the shoulders, having very little or no weight in the head and neck.

3. Find a position where you can balance the legs over the head and relax the leg muscles, using as little effort as possible to be still.

4. Breathe and hold 4-10 breaths.

5. To release: bend the knees back to the head, and carefully and slowly roll the spine back onto the floor.

For a complete listing of all the classes at Wilmington Yoga Center, please visit us at http://www.wilmingtonyogacenter.com/classes/yoga-class-schedule/.