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Supported Sarvagasana Shoulder Stand - Floor Series

A word of caution: Inverting the body is important for those of us who have MS. But please take into consideration what is appropriate and safe. In many cases simply putting your feet and legs up on the seat of a chair, with a lift under the pelvis, is a sufficient inversion.

Lying on a sofa, with several pillows under the legs so that the feet are above the heart, is also considered a safe inversion. In many cases, lying on a bed with pillows under the legs to raise the legs slightly above the heart, or putting the legs up on the wall with pillow support, is also very effective.

It is recommended two months be spent putting the feet slightly above the heart level before attempting Supported Sarvangasana or any other inversion. That would include Viparita Karani pose, as illustrated shown here with the legs at 30 degrees, working up to 60 degrees, and then with the buttocks close to the wall to achieve a 90-degree angle.

If you have any blood pressure condition or eye pressure condition, obtain a doctor’s permission before attempting this asana. I would also recommend that a Certified Iyengar instructor with an Intermediate Junior 2 or above certificate be consulted and present when this asana is attempted.

1. Begin with a bolster, a chair, and a sticky mat. If tall, put one or two sticky mats on the seat of the chair.

2. Be sure that the folded edges of the sticky mats are in line with the edges of the seat of the chair.
3. Do not allow the sticky mats to extend beyond the edge of the chair seat. Two blankets folded into thirds may be placed under the shoulders. The length and width of the neck has to be considered in determining how much lift is needed.

4. If the torso is short, then a bolster can be placed under the shoulders and only one sticky mat on the seat of the chair. Lie down on the floor, with the chair near the wall.
5. Place the props under the shoulders, with the blanket positioned so that the shoulders are at least 1 or 2 inches from the edge.

6. Extending the right arm forward, lie down with the hips close to the chair, legs bent. Roll slowly over on your back.
7. Then lift your feet onto the edge of the chair seat.
8. Take hold of the front legs of the chair and raise the hips and pull the chair quickly toward you in order to place the edge of the seat of the chair at the sacrum.
9. When the chair is secure and in the proper position, put your feet on the top of the back of the chair.

10. The hands and arms can be drawn through the legs of the chair, either to grasp the front legs or the back legs, depending upon your ability.
11. Then with an inhalation, lift the legs up and rest them against the wall with firm pressure on the large toe and heel.

12. If possible, turn the inner knees to the wall and rotate the upper thighs inward through the front groins to the back of the thigh.
13. Bring the outer edge of the shoulders toward the floor. Draw the shoulder blades away from the ears and upward to support the ribs and lungs beneath them.

14. The center of the throat remains soft, and the head is balanced between the two points of the occipital bone as it moves gently away from the shoulders.
15. The eyes are resting in the cheekbones with the lids closed.
16. If it is difficult to hold the legs in this position, a strap can be placed around the mid thigh with a medium grip.

17. If it is necessary to open the chest, grip the seat of the chair with the hands, and press the elbows down firmly toward the floor.

18. The legs can be lifted away from the wall into a 90-degree angle with the hip joint, if a more intense inversion is desired.
19. A strap can be added to help stabilize the posture.
20. After a period of practice, the pelvis can be opened further by bending the knees and resting the feet on the seat of the chair, supporting the shins on the back supports or seat of the chair.

21. To release from the pose, move the seat of the chair away from the sacrum toward the feet. Bring your feet to the center of the chair seat, keeping the hips slightly elevated.
22. Move the blankets or bolster toward the front legs of the chair, and rest the hips on the seat for support, allowing the legs to remain on the seat of the chair.
23. Remain in this pose for twice the time that was spent in the asana. Eyes are closed with the eyeballs resting toward the cheekbones. Do not force the eyes down. Let them float down with the breath.

24. The tongue is relaxed between the upper and lower palate. Breathe evenly. Then roll to the right.
25. Rest the head on the right arm, keep the knees soft, and relax the left arm in front of you.
26. Slowly push the chair toward the wall until your sacrum softly reaches the floor.
27. An alternative recovery would be to bring the right arm under your head, stretch the right leg toward the wall, and if possible ground the right foot onto the wall.

28. Bring the back of the head into line with the right heel, and lie in a straight line from head to toe.
29. It is important that the recovery from the asana be unhurried. The blood circulation should be allowed to return to normal, reestablishing the normal relationships between the heart, lungs, liver, and brain.

BENEFITS

This asana is one of the most important elements of the practice for those of us with Multiple Sclerosis. It brings harmony and balance and the sense of happiness to the mind, body, and the nervous system. In Sirsasana you are always looking outward, experiencing the strength and balance of the pose. In Saravangasana you are supported and gazing at the full body in all its beauty and power. With this reaffirmation, you are encouraged to allow the benefits of Saravangasana to become
part of your daily life. The thyroid, pituitary, and pineal glands receive blood and additional nutrients. As a result, there is increased functioning due to a balanced body and brain. While there are many other benefits cited in Light of Yoga, the emphasis here is on the eff ect of the asana on the nervous and endcrine systems.

Janu Sirsasana Head-to-the-Knee Pose - Floor Series

1. Begin with Dandasana seated on a blanket or bolster, depending on the degree of flexibility and comfort.
2. Use the arms and hands placed by the hips to lift the chest and rib cage. Note that the shoulder harness is used to facilitate the proper posture.
3. Place a folded blanket at the right. Place a chair over the legs near the ankles, with the bar near the shinbone.
4. Then with an exhalation use the right hand behind the right knee to quickly lift the leg out to the side and bring the right heel close to the right groin or the middle of the left thigh.
5. Press the right heel firmly against the inner left thigh.
6. Release the right knee, to rest the thigh on the folded blanket.
7. Bring the chair closer to the hips, so the leg of the chair can support the inner knee, and the seat of the chair is extending to the left.
8. With an exhalation, turn the navel firmly toward the inner left thigh, moving away from the dome of the right knee.
9. Press the hips back firmly into the blanket or bolster.
10. Reach across the seat of the chair more with the right hand, to increase the turning of the mid spine. Move the chair forward
with each exhalation; pause with each inhalation. Try to keep the head in line with the spinal column, with the eyes resting into
the cheekbones.
11. As the range of motion increases with practice, the hands can be brought up to grasp the arms of the chair. As this happens
the chair can be pushed farther forward over the extended left leg. It is also possible to rest the head on a folded blanket or bolster on the seat of the chair in order to move deeper into the asana.
12. Breathe evenly, bringing the breath from the back around the ribs to the sternum. Hold the asana as long as it is comfortable.
13. Then use the hands to press down on the chair seat and raise the torso, keeping the head in line with the spine. Use the right hand on the outside of the right knee to bring it up.
14. Then place both hands behind the knee to draw the hamstring muscles and tendons back toward the hips, as if putting on a long stocking. Place the legs together and sit in Dandasana for several breaths. Then repeat on the other side.

BENEFITS

This pose aids digestion by flushing the liver and spleen. The kidneys are toned. By remaining in the pose, distress from an enlarged prostate gland can be reduced. The legs and arms are strengthened, and the hamstring muscles are stretched, improving flexibility and cutting down spasticity.
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