From the «relaxation pose» begin to slowly lift your legs (bend your knees if you are a beginner or have difficulty coming up) into the air. Then slowly (try not to jerk) lift your back up so that the body is vertical to the ground. Support yourself with your hands on the lower back and the elbows on the floor. The chin should be resting on the upper chest.
Breath with your abdomen and hold yourself as straight as possible in this position.
All of these static postures can be done for a short time as you are first beginning – then as you develop more flexibility and stamina, you may hold each posture for longer times with more inner awareness.
Generally we move directly from this position into the «plough».
If you chose not to do the plough, bring the back slowly to the floor and relax.
There are many variations on the shoulder stand that you can learn from your teacher.
Contraindications: Serious lower back problems, hernia, High blood pressure, detached retina, neck problems
Benefits: Obviously this is a head low posture in which the brain, eyes and neck are relaxed and rejuvenated. The heart and endocrine glands also receive a greater, fresher supply of blood insuring more healthy organs.
Muscles of the neck are stretched and nervous mental tension stored there is released.
This posture inverts and stimulates digestive organs alleviating and preventing constipation and other digestive disorders.
Counter indications: If you have high blood pressure either eliminate the «shoulder stand» – or perform the «plough» first – so that there is not such an immediate rush of blood to the head. (Consult your teacher or doctor).
If you have a persistent neck pain that could be related to a compression of cervical vertebrae, then avoid this asana. However, perform an alternate position in which the legs are held at an angle of 70 degrees to the ground (instead of straight up) decreasing the pressure on the neck.