Oct 24, 2013

Doing sarvangasana and damaging your body??

Sarvangasana is one of the best yoga postures...

... but not for everyone!

I am writing this post to caution yoga enthusiasts against doing asanas [=yogic exercises] that do not suit them, and I repeat caution ad nauseum, don't I? Do not be carried away with claims of a thousand benefits of a particular asana. If you throw caution to the wind, you are likely to damage your body in more ways than one. I know of many people who have suffered by doing standard poses in bad ways, doing asanas that do not suit them and doing senseless exercises to impress others with their body-bending feats.

In simple terms, this asana is standing on shoulders. Lie down straight and raise legs till they are about 70-80 degrees up. Then slowly raise the entire body – the thighs, lower back and the upper back. When the body is upside down and resting on the shoulders, support the back with your bent arms.
When starting to lift the body, exhale slowly and keep doing it till you stand on the shoulder. Inhale slowly and then take breath normally . Hold yourself in this position for half a minute and slowly come down to lying posture, inhaling all the way. You can raise the holding time to three-four minutes or as long as you are comfortable, whichever is less.
Always remember to do matsyasana [=fish posture] after sarvangasana. In this posture, you lie down on the mat, slowly lift your middle part of the body and support this posture with elbows. It is be done slowly, without jerks, and for about half a minute leading to one or two minutes.

Savangasana [= exercise for the all organs] is one of the most beneficial asanas. It rejuvenates the entire body. Commonsense tell us that in this posture the neck is bent so much forward that the thyroid gland is pressed hard, blood flow reverses, the central nervous system bends and gets copious blood supply, and the muscles of shoulder, back and arms get heavy exercises. Even if this asana did only this much, it has the potential of exercising the body’s circulatory, nervous and endocrine systems. But yoga-asanas are integrated exercises that help in many other ways – some of their benefits are being discovered by modern medicine through sophisticated instruments and diagnostic tools. Specific benefits of this asana [besides the overall health and rejuvenation] include incrased activity and vanishing of fatigue, improved pancreatic, thyroid and sex-gland functions, reversal of hernia, improved liver and renal activity, facial glow and lessening of age-related wrinkles.

But sarvangasana is not for all. It should not be performed by people with hypertension, any heart or brain ailment, weak lungs, spondylitis, back pain and glaucoma. Weak bodies should consult the doctor before performing this asana. If you are above 40 and not a yoga practitioner for long, avoid this asana. Even if you had been practicing it for ages, reduce its duration after around 50 years of age and consult your doctor. It is a no-no for pregnant women after three months of pregnancy. Sturdy people also should not do it when sick. Even if you are healthy in all senses, do it for not more than 3-4 minutes, starting with about 30 seconds and slowly increasing it. If you feel flush of blood on your face, slowly come down and do not practice this asana for longer than this duration. Do not come back to the lying posture in a jerk.