Eka Pada Sarvangasana, also known as a One-legged Shoulderstand Pose, is a variation of Sarvangasana. In this variation of Sarvangasana, one of your feet is on the floor in Halasana, while your other is in a vertical position along with your trunk.
Eka pada Sarvangasana gives the same benefits as other inversion poses and adds a stretch of gluteals, hamstrings, and gastrocnemius/soleus on the leg that is lowering to the floor. It also strengthens your posterior kinetic chain at the edge of your raised leg. Leaning back in the hands opens your chest in the same manner as conventional Sarvangasana. Nothing moves in your body independently. For example, lowering your leg can result in that side of your body squashing and the cervical spine hyperflexing.
Expect these types of effects and plan to counteract them when you lower your leg. Lean into your hands to open your chest. Expand your side of the body that is prone to collapse by contracting your lower back muscles to arch and lift your lumbar. The psoas major of your flexing hip will synergize these muscles in supporting your lumbar region. Likewise, engage your oblique abdominals on your side of the leg that remains in the air. This will counterbalance the squash of your trunk on the other side.
|Eka Pada Sarvangasana, One-legged Shoulderstand Pose, One Legged All Limbs Supported Pose
|एक पाद सर्वांगासन
|Eka Pāda Sarvāṅgāsana
|EK-uh PAHD-uh sahr-vahn-GAH-sah-nuh
|20 to 60 seconds
|At the toes
|Sahasrara Chakra, Ajna Chakra, Vishuddha Chakra, Manipura Chakra
|Shoulder, back, spin
|Rest on your back
|Sethu bandha Sarvangasana (Shoulder Supported Bridge or Bridge Pose), Halasana (Plow pose or Plough pose), Virasana (Hero Pose)
|Wheel pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana), Corpse pose (Shavasana, or Savasana, or Mritasana), Supported headstand (Salamba Shirshasana)
|First trimester of pregnancy, High blood pressure, Neck or disk injury, Menstruation
Eka Pada Sarvangasana derived from the Sanskrit name that comes from five words — eka + pada + sarva + anga + asana:
- “eka” = “one or single”
- “pada” = “foot or leg”
- “sarva” = “all”
- “anga” = “limb”
- “asana” = “pose or posture”
Sarvangasana, known as the Mother or Queen of Asanas, is considered one of the most important asanas of all asanas. While it initially requires some effort to maintain the lift, with practice it becomes a calm and cool posture. Eka Pada Sarvangasana (One-legged Shoulderstand Pose) is a more asymmetrical version of the Sarvangasana and allows you to focus extra on opening your hips and cultivating strength and flexibility in the hamstrings.
As in full version, Eka Pada Sarvangasana is usually performed at the end of a sequence, as the mind and body wind down. It can also be combined with Salamba Sarvangasana and used as a transition posture. It can be included equally in the first exercise, provided it is followed by other calm postures, such as supported forward bends.
Benefits of Eka Pada Sarvangasana (One-legged Shoulderstand Pose)
Fixes thyroid gland problems: It helps in putting pressure on the thyroid gland, which increases the blood flow in it. A research study has shown that this yoga pose removes the need for medical treatment and maintains thyroid balance in normal individuals. 1
Reduce hair loss: Nutritional suppression (Vegavidharana) has been described as one of the reasons for hair loss in Ayurvedic treatment. The One-legged Shoulderstand massages the scalp and supplies nutrients to the hair. It makes your hair roots strong and prevents hair fall. 2
Improves Cardiovascular Health: Because the pose is a head-down body-up posture, it increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. In one study, various cardiac variables (heart rate, stroke volume, BP) were measured before and after the practice of Sarvangasana. It has been found that by practicing Sarvangasana, the overall functioning of the heart is greatly improved.
Increase flexibility: The Eka Pada Sarvangasana (One-legged Shoulderstand Pose) carries the weight of the entire body of the shoulder, so it makes them stronger. The strong shoulder increases the range of motion of the surrounding muscles, which is especially needed in sports such as cricket and football. 3
Balancing throat chakra: Eka Pada Sarvangasana (One-legged Shoulderstand Pose) narrows the neck area, removing any lumps due to imbalance of Vishuddha chakra. A balanced throat chakra brings purity to your speech and relaxes the strained muscles of the neck.
Helps in digestion: Changing the gravitational stretch of the abdominal organs in the reverse posture like Sarvangasana and Eka Pada Sarvangasana increases the efficiency of bowel movement and digestive system.
Helpful in reclaiming PMS and fertility: This pose has proved to be an effective way for women to lead reproductive healthy lifestyles. This yoga asana prevents cyclic changes associated with ovarian cycle or premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It also helps in regaining fertility in infertile women. 6
Step by step Eka Pada Sarvangasana (One-legged Shoulderstand Pose)
- Prepare the pose by stretching your hamstrings, gluteals and hip flexors. To create length in these muscles, use poses like Intense Side Stretch Pose and Monkey Pose.
- Stretch your pectoral and anterior deltoids to prepare your shoulders to draw the elbows towards the floor in the final pose.
- After that go to Salamba Sarvangasana. Lever your chest open by leaning back into the hands and pressing the backs of your elbows into the mat. Then lower your one leg.
- Use the chair at the beginning. As you gain stability and flexibility, lower your leg further using your psoas muscle to flex your hip.
- Raise your leg up again when you are ready to come out of the posture. Brace your back with the hands before coming to the Plow Pose (Halasana); Then use the control to roll out of the posture and onto the back.
- Rest there for a few seconds to allow your cardiovascular system to adjust again.
Anatomy Engaging Techniques
- Your leg that remains in the air will tend to drift forward. Contract your gluteus maximus and draw it back and up. Tuck your tailbone to activate this muscle.
- As you lower your other leg, the trunk will also tend to flex forward.
- Counter this tendency by engaging your quadratus lumborum and erector spinae muscles to slightly backwards.
- Visualize your gluteus minimus at the side of your hip contracting. Feel that this muscle stabilizing the femur in the hip socket of your raised leg and flexing the hip of your lowered leg.
- Contract your quadriceps of the leg that remains in the air to straighten your knee. At the same time, maintain the leg hugging the midline by engaging your adductor magnus on the inside of your thigh.
- This muscle acts to stabilize your leg and synergizes your gluteus maximus in extending your femur. Your hamstrings also contribute to this action.
- Flex your hip of the leg that is lowering to the floor.
- The tendency is to rely on gravity alone to lower your foot. It can lead to the trunk collapsing on that side of your body.
- Engage your psoas and its synergists, the sartorius and pectineus, to bend your hip from the crease of your groin. Your psoas major acts in synergy with the quadratus lumborum to support your lumbar spine, preventing some of the squash of the trunk that can occur when you bring your leg down.
- Firmly contract your quadriceps to straighten your knee. The central portion of this muscle, your rectus femoris, also synergizes your psoas in flexing the hip.
- Activating your quadriceps produces reciprocal inhibition of the same-side hamstrings, relaxing your muscle into the stretch. Engage your tibialis anterior to dorsiflex your foot.
- Activate your biceps and brachialis muscles to flex your elbows and press your palms into the back. Then lean back into your hands and feel how this opens your chest.
- Supinate your forearms to spread the weight from the index finger side across the palms. Press the backs of your elbows into the mat by firmly engaging your posterior deltoids. This extends your upper arm bones (your humeri) and aids to open your chest.
- Externally rotate your shoulders by contracting your infraspinatus and teres minor muscles. Your posterior deltoids synergize this action.
- Avoid Eka Pada Sarvangasana (One-legged Shoulderstand Pose) during pregnancy and menstruation. By practicing this yoga pose the blood flow is reversed which can do more harm than good in this situation.
- Individual with high blood pressure, heart disease, glaucoma or high myopia range should consult a specialist.
- Individuals with sciatic nerve conditions, spinal or shoulder injuries should avoid this yoga asana.
- Anu S , Senthil Nathan. “DOPPLER MONITORING OF THYROID BLOOD FLOW BEFORE AND AFTER YOGASANAS.” National Journal of Basic Medical Sciences. Volume – III, Issue-1. Available from: https://njbms.in/uploads/19/1600_pdf.pdf.
- Meenakshi Malik, Mona Bajpai, C. Bhuvaneswari, K.Venkat Shivudu. “COMPREHENSIVE STUDY OF KESHA AND VARIOUS HAIR PROBLEM IN TERMS OF AYURVEDA.” Pharma Science Monitor 7(2),Apr-Jun 2016. Impact factor: 3.958/ICV: 4.10. ISSN: 0978-7908. Available from: https://www.pharmasm.com/pdf_files/20160701005108_20160610042440_30_meenakshi.pdf.
- Gurpreet Makker, Research Scholar, Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, University of Delhi. “Effect of Selected Asanas on the Flexibility of Ranji level Wicket Keepers in Cricket.” International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 3, Issue 12, December 2013. ISSN 2250-3153. Available from: https://www.ijsrp.org/research-paper-1213/ijsrp-p2422.pdf.
- Sachin G. Khedikar and Mukund P. Erande. “MANAGEMENT OF DIABETES MELLITUS THROUGH AASANA AND PRANAYAMA.” Available from: https://www.researchgate.net.
- Raveendran AV, Deshpandae A, Joshi SR. Therapeutic Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2018 Sep;33(3):307-317. doi: 10.3803/EnM.2018.33.3.307. Epub 2018 Aug 14. PMID: 30112866; PMCID: PMC6145966.
- H J Thejaswini, B Prakash Narayana, Shetty Kumar Suhas, and H P Savitha. “Yoga and Healthy Life Style Modification in Prevention of Premenstrual Syndrome.” International Journal of Yoga and Allied Sciences. Volume: 3, Issue: 2; July – Dec. 2014. ISSN: 2278 – 5159. Available from: https://indianyoga.org.