Shoulder Stand can be deceptively relaxing. If it feels good to ease into it today, start from Legs Up Against the Wall and after you’ve warmed up the spine with that gentle inhale up, exhale down massage, as you’re up, draw the elbows towards the midline and bring the hands to the lower back to support you as you aim the soles of the feet towards the ceiling.
Notice the breath, aiming to continue with that longer exhalation and full abdominal breath or your Ujjayi. If it’s comfortable to hold for five complete breaths, do so and then, come out either by taking Plough pose or by bringing your legs back up against the wall.
While it should be avoided if you have any neck or shoulder issues (and if you’re going into it, ensure your head and neck stay still), it can also be quite beneficial if done carefully.
The other day, I hurt my left shoulder (made quite the change from my usual right) by lifting Wheelberforce (my bike) awkwardly. While honouring what it seemed to be telling me, doing my best to pay attention to my edge in terms of mobilising it without making anything worse, I did a yoga class then swam but didn’t do the full hour.
When I got home, it hurt a lot and I wanted to lie with the top left of the shoulder on the ground to benefit from some of the earth’s healing benefits. Not wanting to look too odd, I decided to do some spinal rocks in the garden and this really helped. I went up into Shoulder Stand and then into Plough and am sure that this helped it heal faster than previous shoulder injuries.
Having said that, attempting any cartwheels or handstands would have been completely wrong for it. And previous shoulder and neck injuries would have made Shoulder Stand a Very Bad Idea at those times.
Other precautions include high blood pressure, hypertension, glaucoma and pregnancy.
You know your body best but talk to a yoga therapist, physiotherapist or even GP to ensure you never take unnecessary risks or do more damage. Yoga is all about becoming friendlier with our own bodies.
What do you think of Shoulder Stand?
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