Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Sarvanga Mean?

Sarvanga is a Sanskrit word that means “all the limbs,” “whole body,” “throughout the limbs” or “complete.” It comes from sarva, meaning “universe,” and anga, meaning “limb” or “part of the body.”

In yoga, sarvanga can refer to the entire body of knowledge (all of the Vedas) or it can refer to the physical body, as in sarvangasana – shoulder stand in English – so-named because it engages the entire body. In the ancient Indian medical system of ayurveda, sarvanga abhyanga is a full-body massage with medicated oils, and sarvanga dhana is a full-body bath in medicated oils.


Yogapedia Explains Sarvanga

Sarvangasana is thought to be one of the most beneficial poses in yoga and is, therefore, often referred to as the “mother of all asanas.” In addition to sarvangasana, the term sarvanga is used in the name of other yoga asanas that engage the entire body, including variations of the basic shoulder stand:

  • Setu bandha sarvangasana (bridge pose), a foundational posture in Hatha yoga
  • Salamba sarvangasana (supported shoulder stand; often a synonym for sarvangasana), practiced with the arms and hands supporting the back
  • Niralamba sarvangasana (unsupported shoulder stand), practiced without the support of the arms or a wall

There are many other variations of sarvangasana.

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