Standing for grace on the mat and in the world

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What does it mean to "take a stand for grace?" How does one begin to experience more grace, ease and peace when the world outside is often full of noise, pollution, and chaos?  It is as difficult to explain the well of peace that can be found in a yoga pose to someone who has not yet experienced that place of calm as it may be to try to explain to someone the calm and grace that may arise through taking in the beauty of a sunset without being there to experience it first hand.  It's subtle, but real. Today, we turn our world upside down with shoulder stand. B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the leading pioneers of yoga states, "It is one of the greatest boons conferred on humanity by our ancient sages." It is the "mother of asana," according to Iyengar and known to be is a cure-all for most common ailments.  The powerful practice of shoulder stand: sarvangasana, is one of those amazing postures that will give you a sense of heightened awareness and supports a lengthy list of physical benefits. The four major systems of the body: cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine systems are positively influenced. Most of all, one will walk away from this posture feeling a new lightness, a sense of peace and overall, a more balanced state of being. The benefits are too numerous to mention in just a few words, so I will state it like this: If you turn your world upside down, you'll no longer wear a frown. Starting a regular practice of this pose will bring your body and mind into a harmonious state, providing a sense of joy and vitality such that you can be the grace you wish to see on your mat and in the world. 
 
Some of the benefits: 
Shoulder stand strengthens the upper body, legs and abdomen, opens the chest, and stretches the neck, shoulders and upper back muscles. Helps to relieve varicose veins and drains used blood from the legs, pelvis and abdominal area. This posture soothes the nervous system and when one is tense, upset, nervous, irritated, fatigued, or when suffering from insomnia.

• eradicates the common cold and nasal disturbances
• soothes the nerves and those who suffer from shortness of temper
• helps for those who have experienced nervous breakdown or insomnia
• changes the gravitational pull on the body
• effects the abdominal organs
• allows the bowels to move freely
• relieves constipation
• helps with urinary disorders and uterine displacement
• helps with menstrual trouble and hernia
• helps relieve epilepsy, low vitality and anemia
• activates the abdominal organs and relieves pain from stomach and intestinal ulcers or abdominal pain
 
 
When it may be wise not to practice this posture:
• During menstruation, inversions should be avoided, it reverses the natural flow and could cause a disruption in the cycle
• If you have high blood pressure
• If you have a detached retina, hernia or cardiovascular disease
• If you have cervical spondylitis
• If you have a slipped disc
• If you have a neck injury (discuss with your experienced teacher first)
• If you have any other spinal injury and are new to yoga (seek the advice of a professional first)
 
Resources:
• Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha Swami Satyananda Saraswati
• Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit: A Return to Wholeness. Donna Farhi
• Light on Yoga. BKS Iyengar
Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness. Erich Schiffmann
Yoga: A Gem for Women. Geeta S. Iyengar
• www.youryogaexpert.org (Kali Ray's Website)