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3 Safe Ways to Modify Shoulderstand Pose (Video Tutorial)

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Shoulderstand, or Sarvangasana, is often referred to as the “queen of all asanas” because of its many benefits for our nervous and endocrine systems. Shoulderstand is a great yoga pose to encourage the lymph fluids to circulate throughout the body and can help reduce swelling in the limbs.
Shoulderstand is also a wonderful posture to practice at end of your yoga practice because it helps your body and mind unwind from the physical practice and helps prepare you for Savasana.
Stay safe
Just like any inversion, Shoulderstand has some contraindications and should be approached carefully. The modifications offered in this tutorial will help you become more comfortable and stable in your Shoulderstand practice. But please consult your doctor before you attempt Shoulderstand if you:

  • Have uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Have glaucoma or eye pressure
  • Are pregnant or menstruating

What you will need
When you’re ready to practice Shoulderstand you will need a few yoga props:

Watch the video tutorial, and reference the cues below for additional guidance:


Here are three safe ways to modify Shoulderstand Pose:


1. Legs Up the Wall Pose

Let’s try it:

  • Begin in fetal position with your left hip flush against the wall
  • Roll onto your back as you extend your legs up the wall
  • Once your legs are on the wall, scoot your hips as close to the wall as possible
  • Make sure you don’t have anything (like a ponytail) preventing your head from resting on the floor
  • Stay here for at least 10 breaths or longer to feel the stress-relieving benefits
  • If you would like more height in this variation, bend your knees, press your feet against the wall and lift your hips. Then place a block on medium height under your sacrum
  • Draw the shoulder blades closer together and keep your head still to protect your neck
  • Extend your legs up the wall and hold this posture for at least 10 breaths
  • When you’re ready, slowly remove the block (if you are using one) and bring your hips to the floor.
  • Bend your knees, roll onto your side and slowly come back to a seated position



2. Inverted Action Pose

Let’s try it:

  • Grab and yoga blanket and fold it a few times to create a 1-2 inch fold
  • Recline onto the blanket and rest your neck on the folded edge of the blanket for support
  • Place your palms onto the mat and slowly lift the hips into Bridge Pose
  • Draw the shoulder blades towards each other for more stability
  • Come onto the balls of your feet and lift your hips higher
  • Bend your elbows and keep them on the floor. Then bring the heels of your hands onto your low back and your fingertips onto your glutes
  • Gently lower your hips into your hands for a Supported Bridge Pose variation
  • Fire up your core and draw one knee into your chest. When you are ready, draw the other knee into the chest
  • Keeping your shoulders stable and your core engaged, slowly straighten the legs towards the ceiling
  • Remember to keep your head and neck still to avoid injury
  • Hold for a few breaths
  • To come out of the pose, bring your knees into your chest, slowly release the hands from your hips and then bring your hips and feet to the mat


3. Shoulderstand with support

Let’s try it:

  • Recline onto your folded blanket just as you did in Inverted Action Pose
  • Place your palms by your side and keep your neck still
  • Use your core strength to bring your knees into your chest and then bring your hands to your hips for support
  • Keep your hands on your hips and bring the shoulder blades and elbows closer together
  • Engage your core, squeeze your inner thighs together and extend the legs towards the ceiling
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths with your hands on your low back for support
  • To release from Shoulderstand, slowly bring your knees into your chest and release your hips to the floor
  • Option to practice Fish Pose as a great counterpose that opens the chest and throat after Shoulderstand

Taking care of yourself is such an important part of your daily routine. These three variations of Shoulderstand are great yoga poses to relax and restore your body and mind. Feel free to practice one or all of the variations during your daily yoga practice and check in with the video for more tips and instruction.

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Keya Williams is a wife, a busy mom of 3 and a Yoga Lifestyle Consultant. She teaches moms on the go how to use yoga as a tool to juggle life and kids without burning out. Could you use a little more peace, energy and focus in your mom life? Check out Keya’s free video and learn 3 yoga-based steps to help you do motherhood with more ease and joy!

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