Definition - What does Sarvangasana mean?
Sarvangasana is an inversion used at the end of a yoga practice in order to encourage cleansing blood flow throughout the body and to promote an inner sense of calm. The term comes from the Sanskrit sarva, meaning "all," anga, meaning "limb," and asana, meaning "pose" or "posture."
To enter the pose, lie down on the back. Bend the knees and place the feet on the floor, as close to the buttocks as possible. On an exhale with a strong core, press the arms and upper body into the floor and press the legs up overhead, moving the hips and legs off the floor. Bring the knees, still bent, towards the head, then lift the bottom and hips up to bring the hips and torso perpendicular to the floor. To support the body, place the hands on the lower back with bent elbows. Once balanced, hands can be removed from the back and should remain straight against the body, grounded on the floor with palms facing down. When secure, inhale and lift the feet towards the ceiling, bringing the legs in line with the rest of the body and perpendicular to the floor. With your gaze towards your feet or chest, press the shoulder blades down into the mat and, if able, move the heart closer towards the chin and face. To exit, exhale and bend the knees back towards the torso and face. Then, keeping the knees bent, roll the spine onto the floor gently and gradually, one vertebrae at a time.
Sarvangasana is also known as shoulder stand pose in English.
Yogapedia explains Sarvangasana
Sarvangasana is often included as a finishing pose in Ashtanga yoga. As an inversion, it can promote healthy, refreshing blood flow to the brain and heart after completing other poses that require the head, neck and heart to remain upright. Because the blood flow is “reversed” to concentrate on the head and heart, this pose evokes a sense of calm and can awaken the mind with renewed circulation.
Often referred to as the “queen” of asanas, sarvangasana is thought to awaken kundalini, the primal energy force coiled at the base of the spine. It also opens the visuddha, or throat, chakra, which is thought to be the purification center for the body and an influence on creativity.
In salamba sarvangasana, the hands, arms, and sometimes additional props are used to support the torso. However, in sarvangasana, the arms are kept pressed against the mat, palms down. This is considered an intermediate to advanced asana and should be practiced by beginners with the assistance of a yoga teacher.