Supported Sarvangasana: Shoulder Stand

Posted by on Nov 6, 2013 in Teaching Tips | 1 comment

Supported Sarvangasana: Shoulder Stand

One of my most influential teachers, Aadil Palkhivala, once said, “Practicing yoga without including an inversion, is like trying to make lemonade without lemons.”  For those students who have mastered some version of shoulder stand and or headstand as a part of their home practice, his statement makes perfect sense. If you are a student who is still hoping to make friends with shoulder stand, the approach I offer here may help.

Throughout my years of teaching I have successfully introduced students with a wide variety of physical conditions to the following version of shoulder stand.  Whether you lack confidence in your ability to hold yourself up without falling, have a neck fusion, an autoimmune challenge such as Multiple Sclerosis, are recovering from an illness, or simply need support to balance an overly stressful day, this pose can work for you.


Sarvangasana, shoulder stand is called “the mother” of all asana. This one pose alone promises to balance all glandular functions, improve circulation, lower blood pressure*, release endorphins, improve mood, balance thyroid function, reduce histamine responses, and restore immunity, just to name a few.

Set up.

You will need two folding chairs or chairs without arms,  a firm bolster or a stack of two to three folded blankets to create a bolster, a sticky mat under the chairs to keep everything in place, and one more blanket or second mat to pad the seat of the chair.


Sit sideways in the chair, turn and place your knees over the chair back. Slide your buttocks into the center of the seat. Holding with your knees, begin to tip back, walking your hands down the front legs of the chair. Do not place your hands on the floor, this will encourage the chair to tip. Place your elbows on the bolster, then your shoulders. Slip your hands under the chair seat and take hold of the back legs, then place your feet on the top of the chair back. Take a moment to adjust your position.

Step 1 Supported Shoulder StandStep 2 Supported shoulder standStep 3 Full shoulder stand with chairStep 4 Halasana: Plough with two chairs


Roll your shoulders back and turn the upper arms out and under to support your chest. Place your hips evenly in the chair. Pause here to deepen and relax your breath providing time for your body to regulate the flow of blood from your head and chest back toward your feet. Once the pressure in your head has diminished, extend your legs up toward the ceiling. Bring your feet and legs into Tadasana, mountain pose. Extend from the back of your knees into directions, up and down to create support for your chest to open while lifting your chest towards your chin. Soften your belly and throat.

To watch a video of this pose being taught in Seminole , Fla at yoga for all click here

Body Trivia

Did you know that it takes three minutes for an individual blood cell to travel thru every vessel in the body? This implies that remaining inverted for three minutes or more will allow shoulder stand to deliver its magic, Ie; flush, purify and restore all glandular and organ functions.


I recommend building up to hold this position for minimum of seven minutes. If seven minutes feels to rigorous, try holding only 3 minutes then slowly take your feet over your head and into Halasana, plough pose, with your feet on the second chair. Or bend your knees, place the feet on the chair back in Badhakonasana, bound angle or butterfly pose. You may also set a timer for longer holds of 7, 10, or 20 minutes.

How to End

When it is time to end simply slide yourself down off the chair, rest with your hips on the bolster and your legs in the seat of the chair. Stay in this position for another 3-5 minutes to let all of the magic settle in. You may find it is the best moment of relaxation for the day!

Please ask any of the knowledgeable instructors who are graduates of Lillah’s Transformation Yoga Trainings to help you learn this wonderful supportive version of Sarvangasana. Blessed Practice and Namaste, Lillah Schwartz

* Persons who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, even though currently controlled with medication, need to consult with a knowledgeable yoga instructor before embarking on the practice of shoulder stand or other inversions.

For more yoga pose information please peruse Lillah’s book, Transform Your Life with Yoga: Home Practice Guide, found in our online store.

One Comment

  1. The website is great! Look forward to your blog. Thank you, Lillah.


  1. Supported Shoulder Stand, Learn the Pose - […] pose starting with your knees bent. For more information on the benefits of this pose please go to  […]

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