The Mother of Yoga

Shoulderstand or sarvangasana in sanskrit is known as the 'mother of yoga'. It has such a distinguished name because when it is performed correctly it has an impact on the functioning of all body parts. Just as a 'mother' has historically been the creator of harmony and peace in the home, so the regular practice of shoulderstand is said to bring harmony to the nervous and endocrine (hormone) systems for a vibrant life.

In general, poses or asanas that position the head below the heart or feet above the heart are called inversions and are said to give our hearts a break and bring harmony to the body and mind.

Regular practice of Salamba Sarvangasana (supported shoulderstand) positively affects our bodies in the ways listed below which is why we should all try and fit it into our lives daily.

1. Strengthens the heart and respiratory systems: Because our bodies are inverted, shoulderstand reduces strain on our hearts. Healthy blood has a chance to move around the neck and chest. People with asthma, bronchitis and throat issues may feel even greater relief.

2. Soothes the nervous system: Shoulderstand has a soothing impact on our parasympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system. So if you get irritated or angry easily, suffer from anxiety or have had a nervous breakdown, daily shoulderstands can help you deal with life's trials and tribulations more easily.

3. Balanances hormones: Balance to both the thyroid (in your neck) and hypothalamus (in your brain) occurs in shoulderstand which allow for proper hormone production.

4. Aides in restful sleep: This asana (pose) promotes restful sleep and can help those who suffer from insomnia.

5. Combats common cold: Sustained shoulderstand practice eradicates the common cold and other nasal irritations.

6. Reduces constipation: Simple gravitation works wonders in shoulderstand as bowels move freely and constipation is relieved.

7. Increased strength and flexibility: The upper body, legs and abdomen are strengthened in sarvangasana. The neck, shoulders and upper back muscles are stretched and the chest is opened.

8. Reduces wrinkles: Increased blood flow to the face means wrinkles can be reduced. If practiced regularly, you may notice an improvement in complexion.

9. Reduces varicose veins: Old blood is drained from the legs, pelvis and abdominal area thus reducing varicose veins.

10. Stimulates the throat chakra (energy channel): Shoulderstand ignites the throat chakra so you may feel more comfortable speaking your mind and not holding negative emotions internally.

It is safe to say that with a continued shoulderstand practice, you should feel a greater sense of vigor and strength. You may even feel more confident, happier and at peace with yourself.