THE Shoulder-stand called Sorvangasana in Sanskrit is said to be one of the best asanas, postures.
Although it is a common sight to see it done in gyms, schools and health clubs without it coupled with deep breathing it becomes of very little therapeutic value.
Another name for the shoulderstand is The Candle Stand on account the body is kept straight as a candle.
Of great importance to both sexes, everyone should be encouraged to do this asana. Age should be no barrier. I have seen people well over 70 do the shoulderstand with skill and ease.
In this posture the thyroid gland which is situated at the base of the neck and the gonads or sex organs which lie low down the trunk, below the digestive organs are influenced.
The function of the endocrine or ductless glands are inter-related, in spite of the fact each had its own duties to perform. I shall return to the glands when we get to the steadstand and how it affects them all.
To do the shoulderstand, lie down on your back with palms on the floor, slowly inhale and raise both legs. With the elbows down, bring both hands to support the hips with the body resting on the nape of the neck and shoulders. Press the chin firmly against the chest. Now, push the trunk upward while straightening the knees with the legs in a straight vertical line. Do abdominal breathing-in and out movement of the abdomen on account of breathe. Keep very still. You may close your eyes to avoid distractions. Remain in the posture for as long as it is comfortable.
To return to lying position, just bend the knees, then curve the spine, gradually unfolding it like when one unrolls a carpet. With the whole back on the floor, straighten the knees and gently lower your legs to the ground.
Take a little rest flat on your back.
Benefits: The shoulderstand affects the thyroid and sex glands. It gives vitality to the nerves, purifies the blood and promotes good circulation.
With this exercise, the lower organs are strengthened and made to stay in place. It is especially recommended for women after child birth. Of immense help to sufferers of asthma, constipation and piles it must be practised with deligence. It is of great help in overcoming painful menstration and other female disorders. In the menfolk, seminal weakness is corrected, manly vigour preserved.
Caution: People with organic disorders of the thyroid should refrain from this exercise and should be done for short periods – thirty seconds to a minute by those afflicted with chronic nasal catarrh.
Next in line after the shoulderstand is what is called The Fish Posture. In the shoulderstand, the head is bent towards the chest while the opposite obtains in the fish-the neck is arched, bending the head backwards.
Supta-vafrasana is San-skrit, the fish in done by kneeling on the floor with the feet spread apart. The body is then lowered down to the point where a sitting posture between the heels is attained start reclining the body, and elbow. Drop the head far back. Continue the reclining movement until the done of your head is on the floor. Now arrange the hands as if in prayer. Breathe normally.
The benefits of the fish are as follows: The pituitary pineal, thyroid and adrenal glands are affected. The neck is stretched and limbered. It strengthens and tones the nervous system, the kidney, the stomach, the intestines, the pelvic organs and the nerves connected with sex-functions.
For those who cannot sit down between the heels in this posture, they may keep the feet together and stretched out but arching the back and neck till the top (dome) of the head is on the floor with hands arranged as mentioned earlier in the full posture.