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Strange problem with Sarvangasana (shoulder stand)

Tim Sylvester2010-07-05 05:51:02 +0000 #1
Hello all,

I've been practicing yoga on and off for about two years now. I'm young, fit, healthy, no dietary issues, medical issues, or preexisting conditions.

I've been following Iyengar's series from Light on Yoga, and currently I'm in a Kundalini yoga course also.

I have a very strange problem with Sarvangasana that I've not found reference to anywhere else.

After about 30 seconds of the shoulder stand, I can feel a "flow" from my thighs into my midsection. It's not uncomfortable, it's quite pleasant and relaxing actually.

Once the pose is completed and I relax down, the trouble begins.

Immediately after doing the shoulder stand, I loose all coordination, control, and grace from my gait. I become unsteady and stumbly, bumping into walls, having difficulty walking straight or maintaining a path, needing to brace myself to keep from stumbling or falling into things. My legs go Gumby and I'm basically flopping my way towards my destination.

Typically I bound up stairs two or three at a time, but after the asana, I have to go one at a time and hold the rail. All lower-body movement requires great concentration and focus to execute properly.

I feel as if I have MS or am recovering for paralysis, and the effect lasts for hours or days, gradually lessening as I "re-teach" myself to walk properly. I also lift weights, do gymnastics, and have strong legs, but find myself weak and lacking the strength I know my muscles have in them. I'll have trouble standing from laying down, as my legs threaten to buckle under normal loads.

I did the sarvangasana on Monday, after not doing it for a long while, to see if it still had that effect. It may have been worse then than ever before. I do a short set after running or working out, and I had trouble avoiding running into the wall, my entire body felt half-numb from the chest down, not a pins-and-needles, or lack of sensation, just a fuzzy, staticy feeling. I nearly fell while going up the stairs, as I tried to 'test' myself by forcing myself to leap up them like I literally ALWAYS do. Both legs simply refused to lift enough to clear the stair and I was lucky to have the railing to catch.

Yesterday, Tuesday, I tried to go jogging and found it extremely difficult to control my gait with any sort of elegance or poise. I was swaying from side to side of the track and scuffing my feet.

Only today was I able to go up the stairs two at a time, at about 1/2-1/3 the speed I normally do. Walking has improved to say, 80% of normal. Even so, my leg nearly buckled while I was crouching down to talk to a friend and tried to stand up with only one leg, something I do all the time!

I reviewed my books, all the documents and videos I found online, and I'm not doing it wrong! Or if I am, it's so subtle I can't detect it. I perform the chin-lock, deep breathing, balance the weight on my shoulders and not my neck...

The ONLY thing I can even fathom might be connected to this is when I was about 12-14 (more than a decade ago) I was playing "Chicken" in the lake with some friends. A friend larger than I lept onto my back unexpectedly in shallow water, which pinched a nerve or shifted a disc or something. It was quite painful, and greatly affected my walking / running / jumping, making me quite careful for a time, but either we couldn't afford a doctor or my parents didn't think it was worth the visit. After a few weeks, I was induced into playing Ultimate Frisbee despite the pain, and on leaping for a catch, I felt a pop, and my back was fine again.

I've never had a back problem since. I can do a free-style backbend to wrestler's bridge, then stand up unassisted; I can do a wall-walk to chest-press quite easily; I can do the wheel into a chest press (working on the handstand progression) without problem. I can do multi-minute handstands (toe-on-wall), frog planche, tuck planche, I can twist and contort every which way without any issue. The only thing, the ONLY thing that affects me negatively is the sarvangasana!

I'm flabbergasted! It seems like this pose induces a mild MS or short-term partial paralysis result in my body! What is going on!?


Alix2010-07-05 05:55:59 +0000 #2
How long do you typically stay in the pose?

I have to say that a pose that causes such an adverse reaction for such a long time afterward is to be avoided. The benefits are surely outweighed by the negative effects you suffer.

I am NOT a doctor and I think you should seek advice from a medical professional before doing this again. It does sound like you are dealing with some form of spinal injury though. Please be careful.

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