Shoulderstand – Sarvangasana

Shoulderstand, also known as Candle, is often called the ‘Queen of asanas’. Together with the Headstand this is one of the most important Hatha Yoga poses because of the numerous benefits of these poses on both the body and the mind. The Sanskrit name “Sarvangasana”, literally means “all limbs pose” because the Candle, which mainly has a positive effect on the thyroid gland, improves the metabolism and therefore the proper functioning of the entire body.

Basic instructions

  1. Lie down on the back, with your feet together and arms next to your body.
  2. Keeping your head and neck on the floor, breathe in as you lift both legs to 90 degrees.
  3. As you lift your hips up toward the ceiling, place your hands onto your hips and walk your hands up toward your shoulder blades.
  4. Lift your hips up as high as you can, bringing your chest toward your chin.
  5. Keep your back supported with your hands and make sure that your feet end up straight above your head.
  6. Breathe slowly in this position and focus on the throat region.

Coming out of the pose

Slowly drop your feet towards your head and place your hands on the floor, keep your head on the floor and slowly role out of the pose.

Benefits of Shoulderstand

Regular practice in a steady, comfortable manner within a balanced yoga asana program

  • stimulates the Throat Chakra and therefore stimulates your thyroid and parathyroid glands, improving their overall functioning and therefore balancing the metabolism, digestion, and insulin production;
  • slows down your heart rate and lowers blood pressure, giving your heart a rest and reducing strain on your heart;
  • activates your parasympathetic nervous system, ensuring the proper function of all internal processes such as digestion and elimination as well as hormonal balance;
  • improves venous return of blood from your legs and therefore is highly beneficial for varicose veins and hemorrhoids;
  • encourages deep abdominal breathing (because the use of the top portion of the lungs is limited), therefore increasing the effectiveness of each breath;
  • improves digestion and cures constipation as it releases gravitational compression on the colon;
  • provides a gentle massage to the heart and lung region;
  • strengthens the deep-core muscles, legs, buttocks, and lower back; and
  • increases upper-body and arm strength.
200 hour hatha yoga teacher training
200 hr hatha yoga teacher training

Contraindications & cautions

  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Neck issues
  • Shoulder issues
  • Recent surgery or inflammation in your head region (for example ears, eyes, nose)
  • Arthritis or osteoporosis
  • Brain injuries
  • Lower-back and spinal issues (e.g. chronic pain, herniated disc, sciatica, SI-joint instability)
  • Acute migraine or headache
  • Asthma or other breathing disorders (Hold only for short durations. Skip all together if it causes too much discomfort, nausea, or shortness of breath.)

More information

When you are in Shoulderstand, breathing is calm and natural. You can benefit the most from the pose when holding the pose for a minimum of 1 minute and keep the body still and comfortable in the pose.

Would you like to learn more about the Shoulderstand and/or would you like to learn how to teach this yoga exercise to beginners? Follow the Arhanta Yoga teacher training course in India or the Netherlands and become a professional yoga teacher in only 4 weeks time!

Read more about other inverted poses such as Headstand (Sirsasana) and Plough Pose (Halasana).
On our page “Yoga Exercises” you can find more information about different Hatha Yoga asanas.