Free Downloadable Yoga Lesson Plan With Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana) As The Peak Pose


Shoulderstand Yoga Lesson Plans

In this blog post, I’m going to give you a downloadable yoga lesson plan with shoulderstand as the peak pose, which was created using the Yoga Genie Lesson Planner. You’ll also learn the history of the pose, the teaching steps, the benefits, the modifications and several teaching tips.

As one of the most prominent poses in yoga, shoulderstand is often the highlight of many classes.

Peak pose-themed lesson plans are a staple for most yoga teachers, and you may have learned how to create one during your yoga teacher training.

In case you’re interested, here’s my formula for sequencing around a peak pose.

Additionally, if you enjoy this lesson plan, you may be interested in my Shoulderstand Yoga Lesson Plan Bundle, which includes six lesson plans all focused on shoulderstand.

In the next section, I’ll give you some history behind shoulderstand pose.


Shoulderstand Pose: A Thousand Years of History

Shoulderstand pose, or Sarvangasana, has a long history in yoga tradition. The pose is believed to have originated thousands of years ago in India, where it was practised by yogis as a way to promote physical and spiritual health.

In ancient yogic texts, Sarvangasana was considered a particularly important pose, as it was believed to have numerous health benefits, including improving circulation, promoting digestion, and relieving stress and anxiety.

In the next section, you can download the lesson plan.


Download Free Yoga Lesson Plan with a Shoulderstand Pose Theme

Yoga Lesson Plan: Short 

Shoulderstand Peak Pose Yoga Lesson Plan (short plan)

The Yoga Genie Lesson Planner provides you with three versions of each yoga lesson plan you create. The short version is ideal to bring with you to your yoga class since it’s easy to refer to and contains all the essential information in a condensed format. It’s the perfect tool to help you stay organized and focused during your yoga sessions.

Yoga Lesson Plan: Long 

Shoulderstand Peak Pose Yoga Lesson Plan (long plan)

The Yoga Genie Lesson Planner provides you with three versions of each yoga lesson plan you create. The long version contains all the details you need to practice the lesson plan beforehand. While you can take it with you to class, the shorter version may be more convenient. The long version also serves as an excellent handout, especially for your one-to-one students. It showcases your professionalism and expertise, making a positive impression on your students.

Yoga Lesson Plan: Stream 

Shoulderstand Peak Pose Yoga Lesson Plan (stream plan)

The Yoga Genie Lesson Planner provides you with three versions of each yoga lesson plan you create. Simply provide the stream URL to your students, and they can easily practice the sequence from the comfort of their own homes.

In the next section, I’ll cover the eight surprising benefits of shoulderstand pose.


8 Surprising Benefits Of Shoulderstand Pose

There’s a good reason shoulderstands were referred to as the “King/Queen Of Asana” by the ancient yogis…

1. Relieves Stress: Shoulderstand is a cooling posture, it helps draw attention inwards. Practice if you have anxiety, stress, or fear. Combine headstand with yogic breathing (long, slow breaths) and you have a recipe for instant calm.

2. Increases Focus: When you turn upside down, you increase blood flow to the brain. This can help to improve mental function and increase your sense of focus.

3. Strengthens Shoulders & Arms: While holding yourself up in a shoulderstand, you are pushing down into the ground with your forearms, to keep pressure off your head and neck.

4. Improves Digestion: When you allow the effects of gravity to be reversed on your digestive organs, you will help to move stuck material, release trapped gases, as well as improve blood flow to the all-important digestive organs – increasing nutrient absorption and delivery to your cells.

5. Helps Flush Out Adrenal Glands: Going upside-down will squeeze your little adrenal glands, which are responsible for the production of those so-called stress hormones. The cleaner your adrenal glands are, the more optimal they will function.

6. Decreases Fluid Build-Up In Legs, Ankles, and Feet: Edema in the legs is no fun, and it can happen if you spend long hours on your feet. Reversing the effects of gravity on your bodily fluids will help to flush out built-up water in the legs, relieving the uncomfortable feeling of oedema.

7. Develops  Core Muscle Strength: Shoulderstand is an amazing core workout. You will rely on your core strength and arms to hold your legs up and keep your balance throughout the pose.

8. Stimulates The Lymphatic System: Your lymph system can also be called your rubbish dump system. This network of nodes and fluids helps to remove waste products from your blood. When you flip onto your head you will be directly stimulating your lymphatic system which helps to remove toxins from your body.

In the next section, I’ll cover the eight steps to teach shoulderstand pose.


8 Teaching Steps Of Shoulderstand

Here are the steps to perform shoulderstand pose:

  1. Start by lying on your back on a yoga mat with your arms by your sides and your palms facing down.
  2. Bring your legs together and inhale deeply. As you exhale, lift your legs up towards the ceiling, using your abdominal muscles to support the movement.
  3. Place your hands on your lower back for support and lift your hips off the floor.
  4. Bring your legs towards your head and support your lower back with your hands.
  5. Keep your elbows on the floor and your hands on your lower back.
  6. Straighten your legs and lift your feet towards the ceiling.
  7. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths, or longer if you feel comfortable.
  8. To release the pose, slowly lower your legs back down to the floor, one vertebra at a time.

In the next section, I’ll cover four shoulderstand pose teaching tips.


4 Shoulderstand Pose Teaching Tips

Shoulderstand Pose (also known as Sarvangasana in Sanskrit) is known as the queen of all yoga poses because of the benefits it provides for the whole body. But it’s potentially the most dangerous pose to practice for a newbie Yogi.

Shoulderstand Pose Tip 1: Know The Precautions

Shoulderstand pose is a popular yoga pose that offers numerous benefits, but it’s important to take precautions to avoid injury.

Here are some precautions to keep in mind:

  • Avoid doing shoulderstand if you have a neck injury or a history of neck problems.
  • Do not practice this pose if you have high blood pressure or other cardiovascular issues.
  • Do not practice this pose if you have weak eye blood vessels, glaucoma, detached retina, neck injury, or cervical spondylitis.
  • Do not practice this pose if you’re menstruating.
  • Always use a folded blanket or a yoga block under your shoulders to support your neck and prevent compression.
  • Never jerk your body into the pose. Move into it slowly and mindfully.
  • Keep your weight evenly distributed between your shoulders and elbows, and avoid putting too much weight on your neck.
  • Do not hold the pose for too long. It’s recommended to hold the pose for 30-60 seconds, and no more than 2-3 minutes.
  • Use your hands to support your lower back as you come out of the pose.

Shoulderstand Pose Tip 2: Build Up To It

In my opinion, teaching shoulderstand pose without the aid of blocks and props is suitable only for advanced classes of experienced yogis (see modifications below).

However, if you have smaller classes (e.g. eight people or less) and your students have ample experience, I suggest taking six classes to gradually prepare them for shoulderstand pose while offering a few modifications. It’s vital to ensure that everyone is well-versed in the golden rules of practising the pose (see golden rule below) before introducing it to the class. Only then should the pose be attempted.

Shoulderstand Pose Tip 3: Teach It In A Circle

To ensure my students learn the correct technique for shoulderstand pose, I gather them in a circle around my mat. This way, I can easily demonstrate the pose and emphasize the golden rule (more on that below).

As I guide students through the pose, I invite them to join me one by one. However, it’s important to remember that not everyone will be able to do the pose without modifications. For those with neck issues, high blood pressure, or obesity, modifications may be necessary. If a student who shouldn’t be attempting the full pose expresses interest, I gently explain that modifications will be necessary for a few months to build strength and flexibility. This helps teach the valuable lessons of discipline, patience, and “less is more”.

As students take turns practising the pose, the rest of the class can observe and learn from their peers. With shoulderstand, correct technique is crucial, making it essential to spend ample time on it. By doing so, students can deepen their understanding of the pose and avoid injury.

Shoulderpose Pose Tip 4: The Golden Rule 

When it comes to teaching shoulderstand pose, there’s one rule that should never be ignored: always use folded blankets to support the shoulders and arms.

By placing 2 to 4 blankets under the shoulders, you can ensure that they’re properly supported and protected during the pose. This also has the added benefit of reducing the amount of neck flexion required to achieve the pose, as the head is at a lower level.

The blankets help to create a more comfortable and safe angle between the neck and the body, which is crucial for avoiding injury and maintaining proper alignment.

So, don’t forget the golden rule: always use folded blankets to support the shoulders in shoulderstand pose!

In the next section, I’ll give you eight modifications for shoulderstand pose.


8 Shoulderstand Pose Modifications

The beauty of pose modifications is that they are safe and students receive 99% of the benefits of the full pose. Many Yoga teachers will go their entire careers without ever teaching full shoulderstand pose (especially if they teach large classes to beginners) because there are so many good modifications to use.

Modification 1: Blanket Under The Head

Place a thin blanket under the back of the head so that the head doesn’t stick to the floor.

Modification 2: Prop The Shoulders

Prop the shoulders enough so that there is a space under the neck for the natural lordotic curve of the cervical spine to remain intact (no flattening of the cervical spine) and the upper back to lift. A beginner teacher usually doesn’t provide the student with enough blankets under the shoulders. If you watch the modified videos below, you’ll see that 3 or 4 blankets are used under the shoulders.

Modification 3: Four Blankets

Place four thick blankets (folded neatly) under the shoulders (or use a bolster).

Modification 4: Use A Strap

Using a strap in shoulderstand pose can help you maintain proper alignment and support your shoulders. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Begin by placing two to four folded blankets under your shoulders and upper arms. This will support your shoulders properly and protect your neck.
  2. Loop a yoga strap around the upper arms just above the elbows.
  3. Take hold of the strap with both hands and draw it taut, creating a loop of resistance that will help you engage your shoulder blades and keep your arms shoulder-width apart.
  4. Begin to lift your legs up into the air, keeping your neck long and your gaze upward.
  5. Once you’ve lifted your legs to the desired height, continue to engage your shoulder blades and press your upper arms down into the blankets, using the strap for support.
  6. Hold the pose for several breaths, then slowly release and come back down to the ground.

Modification 5: Use Yoga Blocks

Using a yoga block in Shoulderstand Pose can be beneficial for students who need extra support or who are still working on building strength and flexibility in their shoulders and neck.

Here’s how to use a yoga block in Shoulderstand Pose:

  1. Start by placing the block at the top of your mat, in line with your shoulders.
  2. Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat.
  3. Place your arms alongside your body, palms facing down.
  4. Lift your legs up toward the ceiling, engaging your core and using your hands to support your lower back.
  5. When you are ready, begin to lift your hips and legs up toward the ceiling, using your arms and shoulders to support your weight.
  6. Once you are in Shoulderstand Pose, you can place the block under your hips for extra support. This can help to relieve pressure on your shoulders and neck, making the pose more accessible for beginners or those with injuries.
  7. If you need more height or support, you can also place a second block under your head or shoulders.
  8. Stay in the pose for several breaths, focusing on your breath and keeping your core engaged.
  9. To come out of the pose, slowly lower your legs and hips back down to the mat, releasing your hands and arms as you go.

Modification 6: Use A Chair

Shoulderstand pose, or Sarvangasana, is a challenging inversion that requires a lot of upper body and core strength. However, with the use of a chair, the pose can become more accessible for beginners or those with limited mobility.

Here’s how to do shoulderstand pose using a chair:

  1. Set up your chair behind your yoga mat. The back of the chair should be facing your mat.
  2. Lie down on your back with your feet on the mat and your knees bent.
  3. Place your hands on the chair seat and lift your legs up, resting your calves on the chair’s back. Make sure your hips are as close to the chair as possible.
  4. Straighten your legs up towards the ceiling, with your toes pointed towards the sky. Make any adjustments to your position as needed.
  5. Place your hands on your lower back for support, and begin to lift your hips up off the mat.
  6. Slowly straighten your arms and walk your hands up your back towards your shoulder blades, lifting your legs higher.
  7. Keep your gaze straight up towards your feet, and hold the pose for a few deep breaths.
  8. To release, slowly lower your legs down and roll your spine down onto the mat.

Modification 7: Use A Wall

Practising shoulderstand against a wall can be helpful for beginners or those who have difficulty supporting themselves in the pose.

Here are the steps to do shoulderstand pose using a wall:

  1. Start by placing a folded blanket or yoga mat against the wall. Sit on the blanket with your legs extended in front of you, facing the wall.
  2. Lie down on your back and bring your hips close to the wall, with your feet resting on the wall.
  3. Lift your legs up toward the ceiling and extend them over your head, so that your shoulders and the back of your head are resting on the blanket or mat, and your hands are on your lower back for support.
  4. Walk your hands up your back and use your elbows to support your body as you lift your hips up and away from the wall.
  5. Straighten your legs and bring them parallel to the floor, with your toes pointing toward the ceiling.
  6. Engage your core muscles to support your lower back, and keep your neck and head relaxed.
  7. Hold the pose for several breaths, and then slowly release the pose by bending your knees and rolling your spine down onto the mat or blanket.

Modification 8: Half Shoulderstand Pose

Here are the steps to perform Half Shoulderstand Pose (Ardha Sarvangasana):

  1. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place your hands beside your body with your palms facing down.
  3. Lift your legs up, keeping your knees bent, until your hips come off the floor.
  4. Bend your elbows and bring your hands to the lower back to support your hips with your hands.
  5. Straighten your legs up towards the ceiling.
  6. Lower your hips and legs slightly so that they are at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
  7. Keep your neck and head on the ground.
  8. Hold the pose for a few breaths.
  9. To release the pose, bend your knees and gently lower your back and hips to the floor.

Remember to avoid jerking your legs over your head as it can put a strain on your neck and spine. 

George’s Conclusion 

George's Conclusion

In conclusion, shoulderstand pose is a powerful inversion that provides numerous benefits for the body and mind. It strengthens the upper body, improves circulation, stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands, and calms the nervous system.

However, it is important to approach the pose with caution and proper alignment, especially with regard to the neck.

By following the golden rule of supporting the shoulders with blankets, using modifications and props, and building up to the pose gradually, your students can safely enjoy the many benefits of shoulderstand.

So, next time you teach shoulderstand in your yoga class, remember the tips and modifications we discussed.

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