Progression to Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana) - Part 1
Updated: Aug 9, 2022
Before you take your legs up, build your strength and confidence. Your base should be stable, not move an inch when you take your legs up, your mind stress free!
I - Stages of practice, using a wall and a chair (as above):
Set up your base - blankets, belt, shoulders, arms, hands, chest. Please view our video "Preparation For The Shoulderstand" for instructions.
You may practise with your feet at the wall until you develop your confidence and strength. Work on bringing and maintaining your pelvis on top of your shoulders. Stay in this prep pose, breathing normally (no.3 & 4). Come down when you are tired and can no longer maintain the work and integrity of the pose.
Once confident and you can maintain a sturdy base, place your feet on the chair, toes curled under (Plough/Halasana). Stay there and breathe (no.5 & 6). You can then reverse the steps and come down or continue.
Take one leg up, maintain your base sturdy and strong. Stay and breathe normally. Change leg and repeat (no.7). Return to both feet on the chair (Plough/Halasan). Stay and breathe normally (no.6). Then either come down or continue.
Go into the full stand (no.8), one leg at the time, maintaining your base sturdy and strong. Stay and breathe normally. Then go back to Plough pose, stay and breathe normally. Then bend your knees.
Release - reverse the steps to come down. Slide your shoulders down on the floor, keep your feet to the wall, bend your knees, or keep your leg straight. Then cross your legs or place them in Angle pose (Baddha Konasana).
II - Your base is sturdy, you've built strength and confidence
Go from the wall to the Shoulderstand (video below) maintaining your base sturdy and strong. Stay and breathe normally. With practice build up the time to 5 minutes.
Do one leg (as per no.7 above). Stay for 5 breaths each side.
Go to Plough (as per no.6 above), stay and breathe normally for 5 breaths.
Release (as per no.9-12)
Once you can practise the above with ease, learn to roll into Plough-Shoulderstand
View Part 2: Progression to Plough/Halasan & Roll Back
With practice the Shoulderstand can be held steadily for 5+ minutes followed by variations.
Inversions are best learnt in person with a qualified teacher. It takes time to build strength and confidence as well as to learn the intricacies of the Shoulderstand.
Also inversions are not for everyone and there are counter-indications that you need to know, alternatives can be practised instead. Please see our article "Shoulderstand - The Queen Of Asanas".