The following postures are among the strongest of the Asanas and bring tremendous benefits for both body and mind. They are best practised at a Yoga class, where a teacher will be on hand to provide full instructions on how to safely achieve the final position. Becoming competent in these exercises requires balance and confidence rather than great strength.
The Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana)
In the final stage of this posture the legs are raised into a vertical position, with the torso straightened and supported by the hands. The chin is pressed into the base of the throat. The neck and upper spine are stretched out and the thyroid and parathyroid glands are stimulated by the pressing of the chin into the throat. Breathing is deep and abdominal.
The Shoulderstand should only be attempted with the guidance of a qualified Yoga teacher. Some Yoga teachers suggest avoiding inverted postures during menstruation (and always during pregnancy). Any movement of the head should be avoided while in the Shoulder-stand posture. Pressure is focused on the neck and any movement of the head has the potential to damage the spine.
The Plough (Halasana)
The Plough follows on from the fina position of the Shoulderstand, with the feet and hands lowered to the floor so that the body takes the shape of a primitive plough. The benefits to the spine, neck, arms andare similar to those given by the Shoulderstand, and the internal organs are massaged by the compression of the .