The following yoga pose, if practiced regularly will enhance your health. In fact this is a yoga asana for the entire body. The specific benefits you will gain are outlined below.
Sarvangasana, or the Shoulder Stand. The name of this asana is derived from the Sanskrit word sarvanga, meaning "all parts" and implies that it is beneficial for the entire body. In performing it you will find your entire muscular structure being stretched, healed and revitalized while at the same time your powers of concentration improve.
Method: Lie flat on your back, legs outstretched, arms parallel to the body, palms down. Now raise the legs slowly from the floor, keeping the knees straight and close together, toes pointing. Continue the movement as slowly as possible until the legs are at a thirty-degree angle with the floor. This is Stage One. Pause briefly, breathing naturally and concentrating your whole attention on the movement.
During Stage Two, continue the elevation until your legs are vertical to your body. Pause again, maintaining the full stretch.
For Stage Three, press your hands and elbows hard on the floor and raise your legs, torso, hips, back, stomach and chest. Then, using only your upper arms and elbows as a floor rest, slide your hands up the small of the back to assist in balancing the trunk. Your legs will swing past the vertical point at this stage.
Now, for Stage Four, tuck your chin into your neck and give your body an extra lift to stretch the trunk and legs to a vertical position. Retain this pose for a few moments: you are now holding the Pan-physical Pose or Candle Posture, another classic of Hatha yoga. Now reverse the order of your movements and slowly return to the original horizontal position. Rest.
Remember that at all stages your movements of this yoga asana for your entire body should be slow, smooth and controlled and that a full stretch of the entire body must be maintained throughout. In time you will be able to retain the Stage Four position for several minutes without experiencing the slightest discomfort. Always begin the descent before you are too tired to perform it on one smooth, controlled motion.
Actually this asana is simpler to do than to describe. But if you are one or those persons who become dizzy the moment you are turned upside down, you may need to get used to it gradually. If such is the case, practice one stage at a time until you have become used to it; then go to the next. Never rush for results. Your best gauge is your own common sense.
Therapeutic Value: This asana is believed to revitalize the thyroid, which in turn affects the healthy functioning of the whole organism. It reverses the flow of blood and sends it away from the limbs and abdomen toward the head, thus relieving fatigue and easing venous congestion - hence its efficacy in leg and stomach troubles. The added flow of blood to the neck and upper body stimulate the endocrine secretions in general.
At the same time the muscles of the legs, thighs, hips, abdomen, shoulders, spine, neck and arms are all stretched, adding to the suppleness of the body as a whole and improving appearance. Most importantly, the spine and the nervous system benefit so that inner tensions and irritation subside. It follows that the Shoulder Stand is of the greatest value to persons engaged in mental or creative effort.
Other benefits include relief from constipation, intestinal and digestive disorders, menstrual discomfort, hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
Caution: This asana should be practiced sparingly by persons suffering from chronic catarrh and should never be attempted by those with disorders of the thyroid.
This is indeed a "wonder" yoga asana for your entire body, because of the amazing number of benefits you will gain from practising it regularly.
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