The shoulderstand is considered to be an important and beneficial pose. Its name in Sanskrit means “posture of the complete body.” The shoulderstand helps to improve core body strength and flexibility.
Start by lying on your back (you can place a blanket under the shoulders for extra comfort), roll the legs and back towards the chest, place the hands under the mid-back, exhale and lift the legs and lower body upwards, so that the weight of the body is supported evenly on the head, neck, upper back and upper arms.
Keep the back supported with your hands, bringing the torso and legs perpendicular to the floor and the sternum close to the chin until you get to a comfortable limit without forcing.
Because of the significant amount of weight being placed on the cervical spine and the threat of neck injury, come out of the posture at any sign of discomfort. To come out keep the back supported, exhale and lower the legs down to the chest then gently lower the back down to the floor. Lie down for a few seconds before moving to another pose.
Matsyasana should be done after the shoulderstand as a counterbalance pose.
Marcia has been practising yoga for over 20 years and has specialised in the Hatha and Ashtanga schools of yoga, although has also enjoyed learning other branches such as Iyengar. As well as yoga she practices meditation, and plays a wide range of sports, including badminton, cricket, cycling, and walking.