Common Misalignments of the Supported Shoulderstand Pose

Social media and magazines are flooded with beautiful and advanced photos of Asana. It is easy to let the ego take control and push your body beyond its limits. It is dangerous to ignore your body and try to achieve a perfect pose.

When performed incorrectly, the Supported Shoulderstand pose ( Salamba Sarvangasana ) can cause long-term harm to the nervous, endocrine, respiratory, digestive, and reproductive systems.

When performed correctly, the Supported Shoulderstand Pose is a healthy and fun addition to your asana practice. Here are some common alignment mistakes in the Supported Shoulderstand Pose and how to fix them to keep your practice safe.

Neck Angle

Misalignment: Although flexibility and toning the neck vertebrae can improve the flow of nerves from the upper part of the spinal cord to the brain. Too much constriction or bending of the neck may cause internal bruising.

Headstand, Supported Shoulderstand, and other poses that require poor alignment and form are the most likely to cause neck injuries. If you are unable to maintain a 90-degree angle between your head and torso, it can cause problems with the vertebral vessels (clots and swelling).

How To Fix It: The angle between the head and torso should be 90-110 degrees. The shoulders can be raised on a blanket to create more room for the neck. The head can then rest on the ground and over the edge.

Yogi tip: Raise your chest to your chin in order to activate the thyroid. This is a better alternative to neck injuries and forcing the chin into the chest.

Shoulder Movement

Misalignment: Although this pose is known as Supported Shoulderstand Pose (SSP), the shoulders are often overlooked. The focus is instead on the vertical position of the body to the ground.

A body in a flexed posture can be injured if it has too much weight on its cervical spine.

How To Fix It: The shoulder girdle is the foundation for the Supported Shoulderstand Pose. The shoulder girdle consists of the five joints that connect the arm (scapula and clavicle) to the axial bone on either side.

The body must be strong enough to hold the scapula elevated, adducted, and rotated downwards while supporting the weight of the whole body.

Hand placement

Misalignment: The hands are rarely given the same attention as the triceps or shoulders. Weight displacement practice over time can cause joint and wrist damage.

It is also common to only press the index finger against the back.

How To Fix It: Place your palms on your back, with your thumbs pointing towards the front and the tips of your fingers pointing towards the sky. Place the same weight on both hands and press up and in against the back ribs. Focusing on the pinky and ring fingers, lifting the spine.

Yogi tip: As your core strength increases, you can take your hands off the back and press the shoulder blades together (increased rotation downwards and adduction).

As you gently return your hands, notice how the hips are raised higher and that the hands are placed closer to the upper back.

Collapsed Core

Misalignment: Lastly, the core collapses when the elbows slide and the upper arms move inward. This can put a strain on the neck. This also reduces the ability of the body to breathe, as it decreases the space available for the lungs and diaphragms to move.

How To Fix It: Continue to squeeze the arms together, and lift the upper arms out and up to protect the neck. By opening the chest, extending the clavicles away from the sternum, and tucking in the pelvis while lengthening your body upwards towards the sky, you activate the abdominal and back muscles.

Yogi tip: A light strap placed around the triceps is a great reminder to use the arms, as well as the core, and lift the hips and legs.

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