Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Understanding The Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose!

The name Kandharasana is derived from Sanskrit where “Kandhar” means “Shoulder” or “Kandha” and “Asana” means “Pose” or “Posture.” In the final pose, the entire weight of the body is supported by shoulders and hence the Kandharasana.

The English name of Kandharasana is The Shoulder Pose.

It helps in spinal realignment and also helps in treating back pain. It also helps in toning the female reproductive organs, which in return helps in treating menstrual disorders and other ailments of the reproductive system. Apart from these, Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose also promotes digestion by toning and massaging the abdominal organs.

And like other Asanas, it is important that your stomach is empty and bowels are clean when you practice Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose. And always keep a gap at least 4 to 6 hours between your yogasanas practice and meal, because this will give you enough time to digest the food and create enough energy and vitality for your practice. You should practice yogasanas in the morning. In case you cannot practice yoga in the morning, you can practice Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose in evening as well.

One must concentrate on Vishuddhi chakra while practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose.

Technique of Practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose

  • To practice Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose, lie flat on the back on the floor or on the yoga mat.
  • To get into the pose, bend the knees while placing the soles of the feet flat on the floor
  • Make sure that the heels touching the buttocks while practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose.
  • The feet and knees may be hip width apart while practicing The Shoulder Pose.
  • To get into the pose, grasp the ankles with the hands.
  • This is the starting position for Kandharasana.
  • Now, from the above-mentioned position raise the buttocks and arch the back upward.
  • Try to raise the chest and navel as high as possible, pushing the chest up towards the chin and head without moving the position of the feet or shoulders while getting into Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose.
  • Keep the feet flat on the floor while practicing Kandharasana.
  • In the final The Shoulder Pose, the body is supported by the head, neck, shoulders, arms, and feet.
  • Close the eyes and focus on the eye center while being in the pose.
  • This is the final Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose. You can sit in this pose as long as you are comfortable.
  • Hold the pose for as long as is comfortable and then lower the body to the starting position.
  • To release Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose, bring the torso downwards, leave the ankles and relax with the legs outstretched.
  • Once you have gained the breath and relaxed for a few seconds you can get back into Kandharasana.
  • Beginners should try to stay in this position for 1 to 2 minutes or until your legs and feet start feeling discomfort.
  • Advanced practitioners should stay in this pose for 3 to 4 minutes or for as long as you can.
  • You can practice 3 to 4 rounds of Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose.

Breathing Pattern To Be Followed While Practicing Kandharasana Or The Shoulder Pose

  • Maintain your breath while lying on your back on the floor or on the yoga mat.
  • Inhale deeply while trying to raise your body from the ground to get into Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose.
  • Exhale after getting into the final Kandharasana.
  • Maintain a regular breath while holding the pose.
  • Exhale deeply once or twice after releasing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose.

Preparatory And Follow-Up Asanas For Kandharasana Or The Shoulder Pose

Preparatory Poses: The various preparatory poses for Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose are Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation, Mula Bandha or Root Lock, Uddiyana Bandha or The Abdominal Lock and Ujjayi Pranayama or The Ocean’s Breath.

Follow-Up Poses: The various follow-up asanas for Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose are Naukasana or The Boat pose, Chakrasana or The Wheel Pose, Dhanurasana or The wheel pose, Halasana, Viprita Karni and Sarvangasana or The Shoulder Stand.

Awareness While Practicing Kandharasana Or The Shoulder Pose

Physical Awareness - The Physical Awareness while practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose should be on the back, abdomen, and breathing process.

Spiritual Awareness - The Spiritual Awareness while practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose should be on The Vishudhi chakra, which is the starting point of Udana Prana. It is a function of this Prana to purify the body of toxic substances while breathing. Purification not only occurs on the physical level, but also on the level of the psyche and mind.

Benefits of Practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose

  • Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose makes the muscles in the arms, chest and the shoulders strong.
  • It also helps to make the chest broader and regular practice of this asana opens up the chest.
  • The legs are loosened up with regular practice of the pose.
  • The Shoulder Pose massages the abdominal organs and stimulates the digestive system which in return improves digestion.
  • Kandharasana helps in building balance and stability and also helps you focus.
  • Regular practice of The Shoulder Pose helps in stretching the muscles of the abdomen.
  • It stretches the entire body and helps in increasing the flexibility and strengthens the hips and pelvis.
  • Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose helps in balancing the mind, increases the power of concentration. The thinking process becomes very clear and precise with regular practice of the pose.
  • It also helps in alleviating stress and curing mild depression.
  • The Shoulder Pose helps in strengthening all the core muscles of the body.
  • It also helps in increasing the strength and stamina of the body.
  • Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose also helps in increasing the body’s resistance to back, hip and leg injuries.
  • It activates and regulates the Vishuddhi chakra and is used for awakening the Kundalini Shakti.
  • It also helps in relieving menstrual discomfort and hip pain when practiced regularly.
  • Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose helps in improving the health of the reproductive system of females.
  • Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose helps in treating Uterine Prolapse.
  • When proper breathing techniques are followed, Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose helps in the treatment of Respiratory Ailments like Asthma.

Precautions And Contraindications While Practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose

  • Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose is an advanced yoga asana and should be practiced with extreme caution and care.
  • People with gastric ulcers should not attempt to practice it.
  • People who have an enlarged spleen should not practice it.
  • People suffering from chronic heart issues should not practice Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose.
  • Kandharasana should not b performed by people suffering from chronic respiratory disorders.
  • It is most beneficial when you stay aware of the stretches in the muscles while holding the pose. So, always remain aware while holding and practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose.
  • Get out of the pose or release the pose if you feel a sudden sharp and shooting pain in your legs.
  • If you have any doubts about your condition, consult a physician before practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose and always practice asana under the supervision of a trained yoga expert.
  • Do not over exert yourself while practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose. Do not push yourself beyond the limits. Go only as far as your body allows.
  • Kandharasana should not be performed by people with knee pain or injuries or if you have had any recent knee surgery.
  • The Shoulder Pose should also not performed by people with weak or injured wrists.
  • Also, you should be aware if you have weak elbows and shoulders. Stop whenever you feel discomfort while practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose.
  • People with a hernia should also avoid practicing this asana.
  • Those who are suffering from vertigo should also avoid practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose.
  • People suffering from high blood pressure should also avoid practicing it.
  • Pregnant females should also avoid practicing it.
  • People with Duodenal Ulcer should also avoid practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose.

Tips While Practicing Kandharasana Or The Shoulder Pose

  • People with excess fat in their thighs can practice Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose by applying oil on their thighs, which will permit easy movement of arms and hands between the thighs and calves.
  • You should focus on a specific point to improve your concentration while practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose.
  • Try to keep your spine as erect as possible while practicing the pose.
  • Always make sure that you don't hurry while getting into the asana. You should get into the pose slowly and gently to avoid any injuries while practicing Kandharasana.
  • You should not force your arms to pass between thighs and legs. If you are not able to pass them initially, do not force and over exert yourself. Keep practicing and gradually with constant practice, you will b able to master the pose.
  • Do not push your back while practicing the pose.
  • Keep the weight balanced in both of the arms and palms while practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose to avoid any pain or injury.

Kandharasana Or The Shoulder Pose Variations

1) One Legged Shoulder Pose Or Ek Pada Kandharasana: This pose is done with one of the legs held high up toads the ceiling.

Steps to do One Legged Shoulder Pose or Ek Pada Kandharasana

  • To practice One Legged Shoulder Pose or Ek Pada Kandharasana, lie flat on the back on the floor or on the yoga mat.
  • To get into this post, bend the knees while placing the soles of the feet flat on the floor
  • Make sure that the heels touching the buttocks while practicing Ek Pada Kandharasana.
  • The feet and knees may be hip width apart while practicing One Legged Shoulder Pose.
  • To get into One Legged Shoulder Pose or Ek Pada Kandharasana, grasp the ankles with the hands.
  • This is the starting position for Ek Pada Kandharasana.
  • Now, from the above-mentioned position raise the buttocks and arch the back upward.
  • Try to raise the chest and navel as high as possible, pushing the chest up towards the chin and head without moving the position of the feet or shoulders while getting into One Legged Shoulder Pose or Ek Pada Kandharasana.
  • Keep the feet flat on the floor while practicing One Legged Shoulder Pose.
  • Now, from this pose, raise one foot from the floor in such a way that the sole is facing the ceiling in its final position.
  • In the final One Legged Shoulder Pose, the body is supported by the head, neck, shoulders, arms and one foot.
  • Close the eyes and focus on the eye center while being in One Legged Shoulder Pose or Ek Pada Kandharasana.
  • This is the final One Legged Shoulder Pose. You can stay in this pose as long as you are comfortable.
  • Hold One Legged Shoulder Pose or Ek Pada Kandharasana for as long as is comfortable and then lower the body to the starting position.

2) In Addition To Ek Pada Kandharasana, There Are Other Stretched Possible For The Advanced Practitioners:

  • In one of the Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose variations, you can keep your upper arms straight on the ground or the yoga mat and raise your forearms in such a way that in the final position your palms will be supporting the lower back in Kandharasana.
  • You can also deepen the pose by raising your heels in the floor in such a way that in the final position your toes are on the ground with the heels raise backward and the palms are guarding the ankles.
  • If the beginners are not able to get hold of the ankles with hands initially, a yoga strap or a sloth can also be used which can be tied around the ankles and then held by the hands below the body to help yourself into the final Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose.

3) Kandharasana Or The Shoulder Pose Can Also Be Refined By The Below-Mentioned Technique:

  • While practicing Kandharasana or The Shoulder Pose, broaden your collarbones.
  • Rotate each arm by turning your inner arm toward your outer arm. Keep the outer shoulders firm and lift the back ribs to open and spread the chest.
  • Press the back of your arms down and raise your heels while you are raising the hip from the floor.
  • Now, take your heels back to touch the ground while keeping your hips at this height only.
  • Remain in the pose and maintain a normal breath to create fullness in your chest and widen the shoulders.
Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: September 28, 2017

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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