How is Shoulderstand a cooling pose?

Sunday, 14 February 2021 15:49
How is Shoulderstand a cooling pose?
 
Recently, I was teaching the Wednesday night Intro Level 1 class the pose Shoulderstand or in Sanskrit:  Salamba Sarvangasana (Salamba meaning supported, here, the hands and arms provide the support and Sarvangasana means pose for all the limbs).
 
In the pose I was asking the students to be attentive to the straightness of their legs and the lift of their trunks while doing leg variations. There are many leg variations that you can do in Shoulderstand. At the time we were working on eka pada-s (eka means one and pada means foot), so lowering one leg firstly straight down over head and then lowering it out to the side (this variation is called parsva eka pada).
 
 
It was a warm evening, and one of the students made a comment that a fan would be nice… I pointed out that shoulderstand is a cooling pose, to which everyone chuckled.
 
Classically, asanas can be described as either heating or cooling.
 
What does ‘cooling’ mean?  How are you when you are ‘cool’?
 
Let’s look at the opposite, heating/hot. When you are hot your skin is hot, your heart can be beating more quickly especially when you’re exerting yourself, your mind is alert. You might be able to add on to the list, given your own experience.
 
So when you’re cool, your skin is cool, you feel more relaxed and your body is more passive and your mind is quieter. Your nervous system is more settled.
 
How do you find this state in your shoulderstand?  And when?
 
It all comes with regular practice…..
 
  • Of standing asanas, to strengthen the neck and shoulders through holding up the weight of your head and turning your neck
  • Of Setu Bandha (formation of a bridge pose) from the floor, with bent legs, helps bring a familiarity with the flexion of the neck 
  • Of Setu Bandha, feet on chair, working progressing towards the inversion 
  • To develop a familiarity with inverted positions, advance proprioception (meaning perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body), therefore mentally not being disturbed by the physical position
  • Creating the physical structure to maintain support without strain or overworking.
 
Regular practice brings a familiarity, removing the mental trial of learning a new skill. This familiarity gives you the opportunity to explore and really look at what is happening in the pose. You can discover where you are holding tension, placing undue stress, or overworking in the asana. You are then equipped with the tools to be become quiet.
 
Let’s explore this more in the next blog…
 
See you on the mat :)
 
Namaste,
Nicole
 
Yoga Path
An Iyengar Yoga School
5 Hall St
Newport Vic 3015
 
 
Interested in developing on your deep understanding of the asanas and yogic philosophy?  Join the Teacher Training mentorship….. 
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