It may be a beginner’s yoga pose, but Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana) is still a challenge. There’s something about inverting the body that’s inherently confusing and disorienting for brand new students. Help them find correct alignment and feel comfortable with this teacher’s guide to Shoulderstand.
During your demonstration, point out that one should never turn their head in Shoulderstand—no matter how tempting it is to take a look around the room. This is a sensitive position for the neck, and turning the head can lead to injury.
Have your student tuck in their T-shirt and then lie down on their back. Tell them to rest their arms alongside the body with palms facing down to setup for the posture.
Instruct the student to inhale as they lift their legs and use momentum to lift their hips from the floor. Then tell them to support the spine by placing their hands on the back of the torso with fingers pointing up.
At this point, many students already feel uncomfortable because of improper alignment. Tell them to walk their hands down their back, toward their shoulder blades, and bring their elbows together.
It’s OK if their legs aren’t at a 90-degree angle from the floor, but they should at least understand where the pose is going.
Now in one fell swoop, instruct them to inhale and lift. Scooch their elbows toward each other with your feet, as you guide their ankles upward. This adjustment helps to get the legs and back in one plane, making the pose more comfortable and sustainable for the student.