Pose Focus | Salamba Sarvangasana

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Shoulder Stand
Salamba Sarvangasana


The Shoulderstand is known as the ‘mother’ or the ‘queen’ of all yoga postures, because of the tremendous full body benefits it brings.

- Laura McDonald

However this is a pose that you might want to avoid altogether if you have a neck injury. (I have given an alternative pose for those with neck injuries) - it is possible to use blankets underneath the shoulders to give support but my advice would be that if it hurts your neck at all, don’t do it. If in doubt, consult a qualified yoga teacher.

How to do the pose.


Lying on your back raise your legs in the air and let them go over your body (towards your head) and place your hands on your lower back, press the biceps and elbows into the floor and lengthen the legs towards the ceiling.


Once you are in the pose don’t move your neck.


Try to create a vertical line with the body, this will mean that your skeleton is supporting you and that less muscular effort is required (minimal muscular effort means that this can also be a Yin Yoga pose - called Snail pose in Yin yoga, is a Yin Pose we would be less interested in finding a straight line in the body, and more interested in making sure the body is supported so that you can relax.


Some more ‘Yin-like’ variations here..

Pose benefits.

Shoulder stand is an inversion so gravity brings blood back to the heart, brain and eyes

Because of the rush of blood to the brain, students may experience a feeling of clarity and heightened awareness

It can have a soothing and calming effect on the nervous system, relaxing the heart and decreasing the heart rate

Stimulates the thyroid, parathyroid and thymus glands, important for the metabolism and the immune system. (Also stimulating the throat chakra (Vishuddha)

Improves the digestion by increasing the digestive fire or ‘agni’

Can give increased energy when practiced in the morning

Also reported as a possible remedy for insomnia, due to the slowing of the heart rate and relief of tension in the legs by improving circulation

For my students that have neck issues, or find that they cannot do the pose comfortably, I sometimes propose this variation instead.


Laura has been practising Yoga since 2005 and qualified as a Bikram Yoga Teacher at Bikram’s Yoga College of India in Palm Desert, California in 2009.

Since then she has taught full time all over London and beyond.
More recently she travelled to Vancouver, Canada to train with Yin Yoga teachers Bernie Clark and Diana Batts and is finding that this slower paced, meditative form of yoga is an excellent compliment to the more 'Yang' style practice of Bikram Yoga.

What Laura likes most about the yoga she teaches is it’s accessibility to all body types, all ages, all shapes and sizes and all abilities. She is committed to helping people find the therapeutic benefits of a yoga practice for themselves.

Find her at the following studios :

BYC Hot Yoga
The Yoga Quarter
Sweat Society Surbiton
Bikram Yoga Bristol
The Yoga Lounge, Bournemouth
Upcoming workshops at
Hot Yoga Health, Newport
Hot Yoga House, Eastcote


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