Power Yoga for Seniors: Using Wall Support for Super Shoulder Stands

By Larry Payne, Georg Feuerstein, Sherri Baptiste, Doug Swenson, Stephan Bodian, LaReine Chabut, Therese Iknoian

The Power Yoga shoulder stand helps to create harmony and happiness throughout your entire body. In this inverted asana (pose), your heart and brain receive a healthy rush of blood; the pose stimulates your endocrine system and gives your thyroid and parathyroid glands a tune-up. The shoulder stand can even help reverse the effects of varicose veins! Best of all, when you come out of the shoulder stand, you feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

You don’t have to be a high-wire artist to pull off the shoulder stand. This version puts you up against the wall for a perfectly supported and stable experience. By putting your legs up against the wall, you feel more comfortable and less wobbly in this pose.

When you do this exercise, you should have a thick towel or blanket so you can use it to elevate your shoulders and protect your neck from too much tension. Move slowly and carefully, and ask someone to help stabilize your legs when they’re in the air in this exercise.

  1. Position yourself near a wall, placing a folded blanket on the floor parallel to the wall.

  2. Lie down in the corpse position, with your shoulders on the blanket.

    Keep your shoulders elevated and your head resting off the blanket. Lie on your back, arms extended by your sides, your feet about 1 foot apart. Make sure that your palms face upward and your mind is calm and relaxed. Bend your knees, and let your toes touch the wall.

    You don’t want to use the blanket as a pillow, because that setup causes more harm than good. The object is to lift your shoulders and create less tension on your neck.

    Place your body so you have about 2 inches of blanket beyond the tops of your shoulders. Your body should roll back slightly as you lift up into this posture. When you’re completely lifted up into the posture, your shoulders should still be entirely on the blanket, your neck should be free (that is, you can slip your fingers underneath your neck), and your head should be on the floor.

    The pose should feel comfortable. In fact, you may be surprised at how comfortable it does feel. If you feel a lot of pressure behind your eyes or in your head or if you feel pain in your neck or back, come on down and talk to your friendly yoga professional to see whether this pose can be right for you.

  3. Exhale completely; on an inhalation, place your feet flat on the wall a couple of feet above the floor.

  4. Push your weight into your feet as you lift your hips, supporting your hips with your hands.

    Tuck in your elbows behind your back, and use your elbows and hands to support your lower back.

  5. Push up into a full wall-supported shoulder stand.

    Hold this position for 5 to 20 complete breaths.

    [Credit: Photograph by Raul Marroquin]

    Credit: Photograph by Raul Marroquin
  6. Inhale again, place your hands under your hips, and push down to lift your hips off the floor.

  7. Tuck in your elbows behind your back, and use your elbows and hands to support your elevated legs and hips.

    Ask your helper to steady you so you don’t topple to the side.

  8. Extend your legs and torso as high as you comfortably can, remembering to support your back with your hands.

  9. Hold this posture for 5 to 20 slow, deep breaths.

  10. Come down slowly and relax on your back.

If you have, or may have, osteoporosis, take care doing this pose. It’s important not to put weight on your neck vertebrae.