Restorative Poses

Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) over chair

Shoulderstand over a chair
Level: All levels

Alamba = a prop or support. Sa = with or accompanied by. Sarva = whole, all, complete. Anga = limb.

This is a wonderful variation to do if you have any problems with regular Shoulder Stand. Doing the pose this way clearly illustrates the extension of the trunk and opening of the chest necessary for the full pose. You will need a folding chair, a mat and three or four blankets.

Organizing the Pose

  1. Fold the mat up and place it on the seat of a chair. Place a blanket or two on the seat, depending on your height. If you are taller or have a longer torso you will need to have more height on the chair.
  2. Fold two blankets so that they are long and thin. Make a neat stack with the folded edges together. Place the stack on the floor in front of the chair with the folded edges pointing away from the chair.
  3. Sit on the chair backwards.
  4. Hook the knees over the back of the chair and carefully lower yourself back over the chair until your head comes to the floor.
  5. Thread the arms in between the front legs of the chair and grab the back legs of the chair.
  6. Roll the shoulders under and down to the blankets. The pelvis may need to slide off the chair so that you are resting against it with your back.
  7. Stretch the legs vertically up towards the ceiling.
  8. Hold this position for up to 5 minutes according to your capacity.
  9. Bend the knees. Rest the feet on the back of the chair, bringing the soles of the feet together and the knees out to the side. If you feel secure enough, release the chair legs and bring the arms out alongside the head. If that feels too unstable, keep hold of the chair legs. Rest Here for a few breaths.
  10. Slide yourself off the chair, bringing the hips to the padding, or onto the floor. Rest there for a moment.
  11. Roll to the right and press yourself up.

Practice Points

  • Roll the shoulders under.
  • Broaden and lift the back ribs.
  • Broaden the collarbones.
  • Soften and widen the chest, neck and throat.