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Half Shoulder-Stand (ardha sarvangasana)

Inversion that is beneficial for strengthening your entire body.

Half Shoulder-Stand (or ardha sarvangasana) provides an intense stretch to your neck and shoulders. This pose is beneficial for strengthening your entire body and improving your circulation. You can also perform Half Shoulder-Stand to calm and rejuvenate your mind. The calmness this pose encourages can relieve insomnia, depression and mental exhaustion.
If you have trouble moving into Half Shoulder-Stand, you can perform Spinal Rocking to move into the pose. Once you move into the pose, try to position your body so it does not require a lot of effort to balance your legs directly above your head.
Performing Half Shoulder-Stand is an excellent way to prepare for Shoulder-Stand. Make sure you are comfortable performing Half Shoulder-Stand before you attempt Shoulder-Stand. If you are not comfortable performing this pose, you can try Legs Up the Wall Pose, which is less advanced and provides similar benefits.
You should avoid Half Shoulder-Stand if you have a neck injury, high blood pressure or if you are menstruating. You should also avoid this pose if you have an eye problem, such as glaucoma.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be together.
Place your arms alongside your body, with your palms facing the floor.
Draw your knees toward your chest.
Press your palms into the floor.
Lift your hips off the floor.
(If you have difficulty lifting your hips off the floor, you can use a rocking motion to help you.)
Bend your elbows and place your hands on your lower back.
(Your hips should be cradled in your palms.)
Press your elbows and your upper arms into the floor to support your body.
Straighten your legs to position your legs at a 45-degree angle above your torso.
(Your feet should be directly above your head. Your legs should be straight, but your knees should not be locked.)
Relax your neck.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Then bring your hands to the floor with your palms facing down and slowly roll your spine down to the floor.
Can I use a wall for support in this pose?
You can perform the following variation, using a wall for support. Lie on your back with the soles of your feet flat on a wall and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. With your arms alongside your body, press your palms into the floor. Then push your feet into the wall and lift your hips off the floor. Bend your elbows, place your hands on your lower back and extend one foot above your head. Then repeat these steps, extending your other foot above your head.
What should I do if I have trouble balancing my legs in this pose?
Perform the pose as described in the steps above, except lie with your head an arm's length away from a wall. When you straighten your legs in the pose, gently rest your toes against the wall to help you balance your legs.
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