The Shoulder Stand, shalamba sarvangasana, or just "sarvangasana", is known as the "queen" of asanas because it works on ALL of the body.
This video, just like the one for headstand, is broken into segments so you can practice depending on your level of comfort and ability.
Take your time with this pose because it is necessary to go slow, breathe, and never force. If you feel scared always stop. It is better to take our time with the practice than having to wait months to recover from injury, especially when it comes to the area of the neck! Be careful and respect your body.
5 Benefits Of Shoulder Stand
1) True Restoration
One teacher of teachers told me once that if I wanted to have a truly restorative class then all I would have to do is an hour-long class on inversions.
Curious as I am, I decided that on my next practice I would put this to the test and I stayed on my inversions for ten full long breaths, and then I would add one more.
That night I did see how true that was. I slept very well, I felt relaxed and restored and also quite peaceful during the day!
2) Preventing Infections
Our circulatory system processes an average of 20 liters of blood per day, 17 of those liters get re-absorved into the blood vessels but the other 3 are left behind. That is where the lymphatic system comes in to distribute, through accessory routes, these 3 extra liters back to the blood.
Inversions help the valves move along the lymphatic system. In turn the lymphatic system is responsible for helping us prevent infections.
Over a long and sustained time of practice the shoulder stand is a gift for this system, as it strengthens the whole body.
Just like with the headstand, the shoulder stand uses gravity in favor of the practitioner because with the deep breathing and the body inverted, the main organs (heart, lungs, kidneys, liver) have an opportunity to restore themselves closer to their original position in the body blue print.
4) Thyroid Gland Massage - Regulating How Fast We Go
The thyroid gland is on the back of the neck and it regulates our levels of activity. If one day you feel you are going too fast or too slow, then the tyroid may be out of sorts.
By massaging the area of the throat this gland gets flooded in fresh blood, and over time it helps regulate the speed of our daily activities. This is why active practitioners of yoga seem more relaxed and centered (not all but some).
This is why B.K.S. Iyengar says (on "Light on Yoga")
"...Due to the soothing effect of the pose on the nerves, those suffering from irritation, shortness of temper, nervous breakdown and insomnia get relief..."
5) Better Breathing
B.K.S. Iyengar also tells us that "persons suffering from breathless, palpitations, asthma, cronchitis and throat ailments get relief"
Breathing in this pose is a challenge and you will see as you get deeper into it that it takes courage and strength to breathe deeply.
Remember however, that the BREATH is the most important thing to get all of these benefits.
5 Steps to learn the HEADstand... both in English and Spanish