How to Do the Yoga Shoulder Stand for Beginners

The Sanskrit name for shoulder stand is Sarvangasana. Sarva means all, Anga means limb, and Asana means pose.


By practicing the shoulder stand, you influence the proper functioning of your solar plexus (Manipura), throat chakra (Vishuddha), third eye (Ajna), and crown chakra (Sahasrara).

The elements that are associated with this pose are fire, thoughts, light, and ether.

Headstand is the king of yoga poses, while shoulder stand is considered the queen of yoga poses. With that in mind, there are a number of benefits to your body from practicing shoulder stands. Let’s discuss more about them later in this article.


In case you encounter the shoulder stand for the first time, my advice is to prepare your body properly before performing the pose itself, especially if you feel some tightness in your upper body (neck, shoulders, and back).

In that case, you can incorporate the following poses which will relax and strengthen your body in order to perform the shoulder stand.

The first pose that we definitely recommend is the one that you use to warm up your neck. It is important that your back is completely straight while practicing these poses.

The first pose involves pointing your chin down to the right, towards your right shoulder. Do the same movement on your left side. You can stay in each pose for ten inhalations and exhalations.

The second pose involves bringing your right ear down to your right shoulder, thereby stretching your left jugular vein. After that, repeat the same pose on your left side.

The third pose involves bringing your chin towards your sternum, thereby stretching the back of your neck.

The fourth pose involves tilting your head back, thus stretching the front of your neck.

After these four poses, do three circles for each direction. Three circles to the right and three circles to the left

After warming up the neck, you can do the boat pose (Navasana). Since strong abdominal muscles are very important to be able to keep your body still in the shoulder stand, we advise you to try to stay in the boat pose for at least one minute.

Certainly, in addition to the basic boat pose with the legs bent at the knees, where the calves are in line with the yoga mat, you can also try to do the more demanding boat pose with stretched legs and intertwined fingers placed on the back of your head.

After the boat pose, the next preparatory pose can be the bridge pose (Setubandhasana). Thanks to this pose, you strengthen your neck, shoulders, back, hips, and legs.

The final preparatory pose is plow (Halasana). If you are not able to do the plow pose right now, you can try to do the half plow. In this variation, you raise your legs to ninety degrees, not over your head.

In both the full pose and the variation, your chin rests on your sternum. It is important not to move your head to the left or to the right while practicing the plow pose.

The contact between your chin and sternum stimulates your thyroid gland.

You can stay in the preparatory poses for one minute. After doing the preparatory poses, you can do a series of sun salutations. Knowing that sun salutation leads to the opening of the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and back and thus prepares your body for the shoulder stand in a very fine way, we recommend that you do at least five sun salutations. If you are able to do more repetitions, feel free to do them. The recommended maximum is 12 sets.

When you start with shoulder stand, our recommendation is to first do a variation in which your palms are resting on your lower back. During this pose, your upper arms are on the yoga mat and your elbows are tucked in. It is important that your elbows are in line with your shoulders.

In this variation, your legs are not yet fully extended upwards, and your hips are not yet fully lifted upwards. In this variation, your toes are above your eyes. This variation is known as a “half candle”.

In a half candle pose, your chin rests on your sternum the whole time. Your gaze is directed at the tip of your nose. You can stay in this pose for up to one minute.

After the half candle, you enter a full shoulder stand pose. Your palms rest on your lower ribs, you lift your hips up, and your legs are fully extended. Stay in the full pose for at least one minute.

We recommend that after the shoulder stand, you should very gently lower your legs and hips and enter the corps pose (Savasana). In this pose, allow your body to completely relax—every muscle, every cell.


If you need to strengthen your shoulder girdle, neck, or spine, the shoulder stand is definitely the pose for you.

Due to the fact that practicing the shoulder stand stimulates the work of the thyroid and parathyroid glands, this pose is excellent for both women and men.

Since it is an inversion pose, your brain gets better circulation and fresh blood reaches your brain by performing this pose. By practicing the shoulder stand, you are rejuvenating your brain.

The shoulder stand also affects the improvement of your vision, the strengthening of the nervous system, the work of the digestive organs, the reduction of body weight, and the work of your heart.

We do not recommend the shoulder stand for people who have recently had surgery or any back-related injury.

If you have spondylosis, or neck issues, do this pose with great caution. This advice also applies to people who have certain heart problems.

Pregnant women, menstruating women, and people with high blood pressure or a throat or ear infection should also avoid practicing the shoulder stand.


Shoulder stand may not seem like a demanding pose. This is an intermediate level pose. However, the benefits that the shoulder stand has for your body are numerous.

Accordingly, it is no wonder that this posture is called the “queen of yoga poses”. Although the pose is not too demanding, approach it with great care when performing it, especially if you are currently facing certain limitations that may prevent you from performing the pose fully.


About the author

Urosh Martinovic

Urosh Martinovic is a yoga and mindfulness teacher. He has experience in more than 7,000 guided classes. His work includes 1 on 1 online classes and workshops. Uros is a founder of holistic portal for Balkan Moja Solja Joge (My cup of yoga).