Just like the warmup
, the shoulder stand sequence is an integral part of the Hatha Yoga
routine. You should perform it after each workout, or even without working out (you should still do the warmup first, though). The set of exercises centers your body, helping you concentrate on yourself and works out the kinks in your body caused by a stressful day(or workout).
Do not practice Yoga on a full stomach, it interferes with digestion(Especially in poses like the Plough).
Do not practice any inverted pose(essentially the whole Shoulder Stand sequence are inverted poses) if you have high blood pressure or an infection.
Do not practice forward bends(plough, knee press), abdominal lift, intra-abdominal pressure poses when there is an enlargement of the spleen or inflammation of other such glands.
People with varicose veins should avoid exercises with legs folded back(Plough, knee press).
It is advisable to consult a doctor if a back problem exists. Mild back problems improve with the practice of yoga exercises as long as certain back bends are avoided.
Also, women are discouraged from attempting inverted poses during menstruation, or an increased chance of infection will occur.
The Shoulder Stand sequence is a set of 5 exercises, performed in order. The normal sequence consists of the Shoulder Stand, Plough, Fish, Knee press and Head Roll. There are several different versions of the shoulder Stand Sequence(shortened SSS from now on), ranging from SSS #1 to SSS #4. In this writeup I will explain the procedure for performing SSS #1. As with all Yoga exercises, these should be performed on some thin cushioning(like an exercise mat).
Shoulder stand #1
The first shoulder stand pose is a simple one. Start laying on your mat, with your hands at your sides. Lift your legs, and hold your lower back with your hands on each side, toward your bottom. Push against your lower back with your hands, and bring them higher up on your back. Your legs may be tilted past your head, just make sure you're pushing against your back as high as you can, and resting most of your weight on the back of your shoulders. After a few rounds of practice, this pose should be effortless. Breathe normally. Set a timer for 45 seconds to 90 seconds, however much time you feel like spending.
The plough can be difficult for beginning Yoga users. It requires lots of flexibility in your legs and waist; but worry not, in time you will be able to perform the full Plough.
Start from the Shoulder Stand #1(don't go back down on your mat), and bring your feet and legs down above your head as low as you can. The full plough #1 requires that your knees be locked and your toes touch the floor, but with a modified Plough you can simply have your knees locked and your feet as low as you can(usually men who are just starting Yoga can only bring their legs down to about 90 degrees, but after time they can bring their feet all the way down to the floor). Breathe normally; you may feel pressure on your guts, but it's not harmful. Put your hands behind you like in the spinal massage, and time yourself for as much as you did the shoulder stand #1. When you come out, especially from the full plough, your back may hurt.. ALOT. As soon as you go into the Fish #1, it should dissipate.
Start laying on your mat, with your hands on your thighs or hips. Lift your head and tilt it back, so that the crown(sort of edge of the top maybe) touches the mat, and your upper back is above the mat a few inches. Hold it for as much time as you help the Shoulder Stand #1. When you come out your neck may hurt; it should go away once you start the Knee Press.
The Knee Press is the least painful of the SSS #1; laying down, pull your right knee up and cup it in your hands. Pull hard down towards your chest, and back toward your face. Lean slightly to the right to massage your back muscles. Hold it for 10 full seconds (one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, etc.), and repeat on the other side. Repeat both sides two more times.
Sit up in half-lotus position, like in the neck stretch. Begin by drooping your head forward, and follow all positions of the neck stretch. Do not force your head down, simply use the weight of the head to do the stretching. Follow the neck stretch routine all the way around until you get to the last position again; then do it again in the opposite direction.
These exercises should be performed after any normal workout, as well as any of the inverted poses, such as the Dolphin pose, Pyramid, Head stand, etc.
"They really are good for your health! Look at me, I'm 76 years old and am so happy!" - Marianne Srinivasan, Yoga Teacher Extraordinaire.