Follow This Step-By-Step Guide to Master the Shoulder Stand Yoga Pose

If you're wary of inversion poses, start with this one. Here's how to progress to a full shoulder stand.

exerciser doing a shoulder stand yoga pose outdoors by the beach

If you're looking for an accessible and beneficial yoga pose to add to your daily practice, shoulder stand is the powerhouse pose for you. It's full of benefits and tends to be less advanced than other inversions. This pose relieves stress; improves digestion; opens the shoulders and neck; and strengthens muscles in your legs, butt, arms, and abs. Also, though it hasn't been scientifically proven, some believe that shoulder stands can stimulate the thyroid.

Pro tip: If you have neck issues, fold one or two thick blankets under your body so that your head rests just off the blankets on the floor, and your shoulders and arms are on the blankets. And as with everything in yoga, remember that if it doesn’t feel good, skip it.

01 of 07

Prep: Seated Forward Bend

exerciser doing a seated forward fold yoga stretch outside in front of a beach
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A. Sit with legs together and extended long in front of body, arms relaxed by sides.

B. Take a big inhale. On the exhale, fall forward, pulling navel to spine and extending hands toward feet as much or as little as feels good on legs and lower back.

C. Allow head to relax down toward legs. (If hamstrings are tight, soften knees.) Breathe here for as long as it feels good.

D. To come out of the pose, roll up to straight back, one vertebra at a time.

02 of 07

Prep: Legs Up

exerciser doing a legs up yoga stretch outdoors in front of a beach
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A. Lie faceup, keeping soft knees. Bend knees and place feet on the floor with arms on either side of body.

B. Soften knees and press arms into the ground, then reach feet up toward the ceiling. Breathe here for as long as it feels good.

03 of 07

Prep: Modified Plow

exerciser doing a modified plow yoga pose outdoors in front of a beach
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A. From the legs up posture, allow feet to fall back behind body as far as it feels good on neck.

04 of 07

Prep: Plow

exerciser doing a plow yoga pose outdoors in front of a beach
Vera Boykewich

A. If it feels good, move from modified plow pose to full plow by reaching feet to the ground behind head.

B. Clasp hands together on the ground and wiggle shoulders underneath body one at a time.

C. Press firmly into arms, reach through heels, and breathe here for at least 3 deep breaths.

05 of 07

Prep: Egg Pose

exerciser doing an egg pose yoga posture outdoors in front of a beach
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A. From plow or modified plow, place hands on lower back for support and try to keep elbows about shoulder-width apart.

B. Soften legs and allow knees to rest on forehead in an egg shape. Breathe here for as long as it feels good.

06 of 07

Shoulder Stand

exerciser doing a shoulder stand yoga pose outdoors in front of a beach
Vera Boykewich

A. From egg pose, when body feels steady, reach feet toward the ceiling one at a time,

B. Lengthen legs when it feels comfortable. Breathe here for at least 3 deep breaths.

C. To come out of the pose, slowly soften knees toward forehead, come back to plow, and slowly lower back to mat one vertebra at a time.

07 of 07

Counter Stretch: Fish

exerciser doing a fish pose yoga posture outdoors in front of a beach
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Fish pose is a great counterpart to shoulder stand and can be an effective way to relieve neck and back pain, improve circulation, and open your chest muscles.

A. Place hands and palms underneath butt and hips. Keep elbows as close together as possible and fingertips facing forward with forearms parallel to each other on the ground.

B. Bend elbows and lean onto forearms, pressing them into the floor. Lift chest up toward the ceiling so that back is arched. Bring elbows toward each other until they're about shoulder-width apart.

C. Allow head to relax down toward the ground as far as feels good or until head touches the mat. Breathe here for at least 3 deep breaths.

D. To come out of the pose, slowly release and lie on back for a few breaths.

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