Learn Sanskrit with Kari:

Sanskrit is an Indo-European language that dates back thousands of years. Sanskrit, no longer used colloquially, is an intricately designed language system that has remained intact over time. The same Sanskrit that we learn today can unlock wisdom from antiquity.

This month we are exploring Īśvara-praṇidhāna, one of the five niyamas.  The niyamas are the second limb of the ‘Eight Limbs of Yoga’ from the ancient Indian sage Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The niyamas refers to duties directed towards ourselves – inner observances. They are intended to help us build character.

Īśvara-praṇidhāna translates to “dedication to the Lord of one’s actions and one’s will.” In our own lives, this might look like devotion to something great than ourselves.  Not just in the sense of a God of our understanding, but our causes and what we are stand for. In what areas of your life are you committed to something bigger than you?

This week we explore the pose shoulder stand. The sanskrit name is  sālamba sarvāngāsana. As the weight of the whole body is on the neck and shoulders and the hands are used to support the weight, this pose translates as:

sālamba: with support
sarvāngā: the whole body
asana: seat or posture

If this pose is taken with one leg on the floor, as you’ll read further down, it becomes  Eka Pada Sālamba Sarvāngāsana.
eka: one
pada: foot or leg, also a part of a book

Annie on release:

As we move through October with our yogic intention Īśvara-praṇidhāna  – Devotion or Surrender to a force or power greater than ourselves – we get to see this devotion all around us. The trees, so devoted to Spring and the promise of rejuvenation and restoration, willingly let their old leaves fall away, naked in the cold to make room for something new.

We too must release something old to be rejuvenated, restored. Maybe you need to let go of your need to control, or to be perfect, or to be seen by others in just such a way. In my practice, I have had to let go of my brokenness, and just show up and do the yoga even when I am certain I can not. This old story comes back again and again, and each time I must find my way back to my mat and into the pose, some way, somehow. We put so much devotion into seeing ourselves a certain way. How we are. Who we are. Even why we are this way or that, gets our attention, our devotion. Bring that devotion to your mat. Do not worry if that deep connection you feel on your mat has a name. Call it God, the Universe, Allah, Source, Gaia, the mother, Community, or call it nothing at all.  Just show up and do the work.

“Practice and all is coming.” – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

In Shoulder Stand pose, as in Plow and Fish, the head is subjugated, the heart elevated above it. As your legs move up and away from the face leaving the gaze or drishti up, our attention is moved away from daily concerns and lifted up toward something unknown and uncertain, but powerful.

People often say they feel they will “suffocate” in the pose is they try it. This is simply the resistance, the ego, holding on to what feels safe and known. You are ready NOW! Use the wall, the blocks, or just GO UP!

See what happens!

PS: you ARE ready now! And, if you have ever had a severe neck injury or surgery shoulder stand is not your pose. Modify. Contraindications for shoulder stand in addition to these include recent blood clots or strokes, high blood pressure and cataracts.

1. Eka Pada Sālamba Sarvāngāsana–One footed shoulder stand

You may discover some ease in the neck as you lift only one leg at a time, grounding the other toes down. The lifted leg is in line with the body.

One foot on the ground

2.  Sālamba Sarvāngāsana-Shoulder Stand

 Move your hands toward the floor to go deeper gaze and toes move up. The hips, heels, and shoulders are in a line.

Full shoulder stand

3. Shoulder Stand Modification

 Move hands closer to the sacrum, maybe even resting the sacrum in the palms of the hands to create more ease in the neck.

Hands closer to the sacrum

A quick chat about shoulder stand: