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Working on a hunch

PHUKET: The mother of all postures – the shoulder stand (salamba sarvangasana), most commonly called the candle pose – is be part one of our anatomical focus on the neck and shoulders.

By Kim White

Thursday 19 July 2012, 05:43PM

In my desire to give the importance of this posture the utmost credence, let me borrow some words from yogacharya (master teacher) BKS Iyengar: “The importance of sarvangasana cannot be over-emphasised. It is one of the greatest boons conferred on humanity by our ancient sages as a mother strives for harmony and happiness in the home, so this asana strives for harmony and happiness of the human system.”

So why should you get upside down? Well, to start with it provides a great stretch for the neck, upper back and the spine and keeps the spine long and strong. This is a massive benefit for the modern human, who tends to hunch and slouch while spending countless hours on the computer, sitting at a desk or driving.

So let me guide you through the candle pose and onto upright living.

For those of you that are new to this asana, it is best to use a few props, so grab a towel and find a wall you can comfortably rest your feet on.

Fold one or more towels or blankets into rectangles and place the on the floor. Lie on the towels so that the upper back and neck are being supported by the towel (see image one).

If you are more comfortable and confident with this posture, lie on the floor without the towels. Both options require your chin tucked to the chest and the back of the neck flat on or towards the floor. (For those suffering high blood pressure, work on level one until you are confident holding it for 3 minutes, then you can proceed to level two.)

Have your back facing the wall. Place the palms down on the floor and bring the knees to the chest. On an out breath, raise the hips of the floor and rest the hands on the hips by bending the elbows, start to feel the chest touching the chin.

Level one: It is at this point that you find the wall with your feet and have your thighs parallel to the floor (see image two).

Level two: Walk your hands further down the spine towards the shoulders and bring your hips on top of the shoulders.

You will now be resting on the back of the head and the neck with the elbows resting on the floor. Place the hands in the middle of the spine and take two breaths.

Level one: Have the feet about a hip width apart and press the feet into the wall Push the hips forward toward the shoulders, try to take the “kink” out of the hips.

Level two: Exhale and stretch the legs straight with the toes pointing up. Press the hips forward towards the chin and take the “kink” out of the hips (see image three).

Stay in this position with steady in and out breaths for 30 seconds to one minute. When you feel confident with the asana, work toward a 5 minute hold. Exhale and gradually slide down to lie on the back and relax with steady breaths.

What else makes this posture the mother of all asana? Well, there is so much more going on internally with the candle pose that provides amazing benefit for the entire body.

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It enables the thyroid gland – the gland responsible for managing your metabolism – to function more efficiently.

The candle pose vitalises the nerves, purifies the blood and promotes good circulation; the entire endocrine, digestive, nervous, and venous systems of the body are stimulated in incredible ways.

A rich supply of oxygenated blood is sent to the organs and glands in the upper part of the body.

Increases blood flow to the brain, therefore helping headaches, congestion and sore throats

The change in bodily gravity positively affects the abdominal organs and the bowels move freely while also releasing the system of toxins resulting in a feeling of full energy.

It has been said that while practising the candle “new life will flow into you and your mind will be at peace and you will feel the joy of life”.

I don’t know about you, but I am totally sold.

Have fun with the posture this month and feel the stiffness flow away. I look forward to sharing part two with you next month.




Kim White is the owner of Sala Suddhavasa, an in­ternal arts centre in Rawai offering private and group sessions in taiji, yoga and meditation: 086-276-9174,;

The opinions and advice con­tained in this column are those of the author only. The Phuket News is not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any situation.

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