Shoulderstand: Why Do It?

Shoulderstand is a great pose – some yogis say it’s the most important one of all.  But it’s clear that not everyone should do it.  Read on for a quick drive down both sides of the road.

Here are the benefits available to those who practice shoulderstand skillfully.

    1. The deepest calm and energy of any asana (but only when performed appropriately, using the variations and props that befitting ones strengths)
    2. Relief from swelling of legs, for example, during pregnancy (because the legs are raised)
    3. Increased circulation to the thyroid gland (as blood tends to flow to the neck where they are located, just below the Adam’s apple)
    4. Reduced symptoms of breathlessness, palpitation, asthma, bronchitis, and throat ailments (as a result of increased blood circulation to the neck and head)
    5. Reduced symptoms of headache, colds, and other nasal disturbances (because of the position of the head and the calming effect)
    6. Reduced symptoms of hypertension, irritation, shortness of temper, and insomnia (because it of the calming effect)
    7. Benefits difficulties in organs of the abdomen and pelvis (due to change in body gravity)


Shoulderstand should not be practiced whenever any of the following conditions is present:

  • Glaucoma or detached retina (because it may increase pressure in the eyes)
  • Unmedicated high blood pressure (because of the pose’s effect on blood pressure in the upper body)
  • Neck problems or injuries (because doing shoulderstand requires both strength and flexibility in the neck)
  • During menses (although this is a topic of debate among senior female teachers)

“As a mother strives for harmony and happiness in the home, so shoulderstand strives for the harmony and happiness of the human system.” – BKS Iyengar, Light on Yoga


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