Many variations of the shoulderstand exist, the likely most common to be taught is Supported Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangāsana).
The name in the case of Salamba Sarvāngāsana (Supported Shoulderstand) comes from the Sanskrit words Salamba meaning "supported", Sarva meaning "all" or "every", Anga meaning "limb" or "bodypart", and Āsana meaning "posture"," position", or "seat", thus Salamba Sarvāngasana literally translates to "supported-all-limbs-pose".
Lying on the back with the hands under the mid-back, the legs and lower body are lifted so that the weight of the body is supported on the head, neck, shoulders and upper arms. The gaze is towards the toes and the sagittal and transverse line of the head is perpendicular with the midsagittal and midfrontal line of the body.
Practioners believe that when they perform this yogic position they are sending healthy blood to the neck region and chest and as a result ailments like asthma, breathlessness, palpitation or bronchitis are relieved. It is also believed to balance and soothen the nervous system, alleviating insomnia, stress, hypertension, restlessness, anger, etc. By turning the body upside down it is believed to give rest to the digestive system and relieve ailments like chronic constipation. It is also believed an advisable practice for people suffering from epilepsy, piles and uterine displacement.
Contraindications and cautions
The weight placed on the cervical spine may mean a risk of neck injury, particularly if the asana is not done properly.
Sarvangasana is a counter asana for backbends such as Chakrasana.
Halasana is often used to enter and exit Sarvangāsana.
Matsyasana is a counter asana.
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