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Benefits of Kandharasana and How to Do it By Dr. Ankit Sankhe

By Dr. Ankit Sankhe +2 more

Introduction: 

Yoga, rooted in Indian origin, has gained the limelight over the few years for its numerous health benefits. This 5000-year-old discipline was developed to unite mind and body. There are different forms of yoga but the purpose remains the same. Some yoga styles may be vigorous and intense, while others may be relaxing and meditative. Whatever type, yoga is always a great option for strengthening and stretching the body, focusing the mind and relaxing the spirit. Yoga focuses on asanas (poses) and pranayamas (breathing); one such asana is kandharasana. Here’s what you need to know about kandharasana.1 

What is Kandharasana? 

Kandharasana, or shoulder pose yoga, is a yoga posture lifting the spine. The name is rooted in Sanskrit words ‘kandha’, meaning shoulder and ‘asana’, meaning ‘pose or posture’. Chakrasana is the preparatory pose for kandharasana. Any forward bending posture can be performed as a follow-up pose for kandharasana. In chakrasana, the back is arched, the head is lifted from the ground, and the whole body weight is supported on both the hands and legs. Whereas in kandharasana, the head rests on the ground, the chest and buttocks are raised, and the body weight is supported on the shoulders.2, 3 

kandharasana

How to do it? 

Kandharasana must be done properly for maximum health benefits. One may perform Kandharasana in the following manner: 3 

  • First, lie flat on your back on a mat.  
  • Next, take a deep breath and bend your knees and place your feet flat on the mat with your heels touching your buttocks. 
  • Ensure your feet and knees are hip-width (in line with the hip bones) apart.  
  • Now, try to touch the ankles with your hands. This is the starting position. 
  • Next, slightly raise your buttocks and try to arch the back upward. 
  • Slowly lift your chest as high as possible and avoid straining and moving the feet or shoulders.  
  • In this final position, your body will be supported by the head, neck, shoulders, arms and feet.  Breathe slowly and deeply and hold this pose for as long as possible. 
  • Breathe out and return to the initial position by lowering your body and relaxing. 
  • Practice for four-five rounds. 

When you perform Kandharasana, your back muscles arch upwards that might promote healing. By stretching yourself to your body’s limits, this asana might help in decreasing vertebral disc problems and back pain.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Do you know? 

  • The practice of Kandharasana is known to activate the third eye chakra (Ajna chakra), crown chakra (Sahasrara chakra), solar plexus (Manipura chakra) and throat chakra (Vishuddha chakra). 
  • Nannamal, a 98-year-old yoga instructor, is possibly the oldest yoga instructor in India. She has taught nearly ten lakh students and was awarded the Nari Shakti Puraskar Award. Nannamal is known to be the master of some of the difficult yoga poses like Kandharasana. 

Benefits of Kandharasana:  

Some benefits of this pose are as follows: 

Benefit of Kandharasana for cardiac health 

Cardiac health, or the health of the heart and blood vessels, is central to overall health. It plays an important role in pumping oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to different body parts. Poor cardiac health can be a risk factor for developing cardiac diseases. . A study conducted by Divya et al. in 2016 stated that the practice of Kandharasana may help reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Additionally, practising it may help improve the heart’s ability to function during mild-moderate intensities. Therefore, Yogasanas like Kandharasana may positively impact cardiac health. However, Kandharasana should not be considered an alternative to modern medicine. Kindly consult a doctor for proper treatment of any cardiac disorders. Additionally, it is advised to practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.4 

Benefit of Kandharasana in obesity 

Obesity is the accumulation of body fat; if not controlled, it may become a risk factor for many diseases. Divya et al. conducted a study in 2016 to assess the health benefits of yoga interventions like kandharasana on obesity. The findings of this study showed that 41 days of practice with Kandharasana significantly reduced body weight and body mass index (BMI). Thus, the practice of asanas like Kandharasana may positively impact obesity, but the practice of this asana should not be considered an alternative to modern medicine. Kindly consult a doctor for the proper management of obesity. Additionally, it is recommended to practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.4 

Benefit of Kandharasana in the menstrual cycle  

Menstruation or periods is natural vaginal bleeding that occurs as a part of a woman’s monthly cycle when no pregnancy occurs. Garima et al. conducted a review in 2022 to assess the effect of yogasanas like kandharasana on menstruation. The summary estimates of this review supported that the practice of kandharasana may help normalize menstruation. Thus, yogasanas like kandharasana might positively impact menstrual health. However, it is recommended not to rely on this asana alone and consult a doctor for proper treatment of any menstrual abnormalities. Additionally, one should practice this asana under the guidance of a qualified trainer.5 

Benefit of Kandharasana for the lungs   

Lungs, a pair of air-filled organs located on either side of the chest, are responsible for supplying the body with oxygen and removing carbon dioxide. Along with other respiratory system organs (nose, mouth, airways, windpipe, etc.), the lungs help us breathe. Divya et al. conducted a study in 2016 to assess the effect of yoga interventions on the respiration system. Forty-one days of practising yogasanas like kandharasana increased the amount of oxygen in the body, thus improving breathing. Thus, the practice of kandharasana may positively impact the respiratory system, but the practice of this asana should not be considered an alternative to modern medicine. So, kindly consult a doctor for proper treatment of any respiratory issues and not rely on this asana alone. Additionally, one should practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.4 

Benefit of Kandharasana for lipid profile 

Hyperlipidemia is the elevation in lipid components like triglycerides, total cholesterol and reduced levels of high-density lipoprotein. A study by Divya et al. in 2015 stated that the practice of yogasanas like kandharasana resulted in a significant decrease in total cholesterol, triglycerides, and bad cholesterol. Additionally, kandharasana improved the level of good cholesterol in the body. This indicates that yogasanas like kandharasana may have a positive impact on hyperlipidemia. However, it is advised to consult a doctor to manage hyperlipidemia and not rely on this asana alone. Additionally, it is recommended to practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.4 

Benefit of Kandharasana for thyroid gland   

The thyroid gland helps regulate different body functions like metabolism, growth and development by releasing thyroid hormones in the blood. Iodine is an important element required for the synthesis of thyroid hormone. Iodine deficiency can result in a decreased synthesis of thyroid hormone; this condition is called hypothyroidism. A review done by Mohan et al. in 2022 stated that yogasanas like kandharasana might help manage hypothyroidism. Kandharasana activates the throat chakra (vishuddha chakra), which may improve the functioning of the thyroid gland and increase iodine availability in the body. This indicates that kandharasana may positively impact hypothyroidism. However, further studies need to be done to support these claims. Therefore, it is advised to consult a doctor for proper treatment of hypothyroidism and not rely on this asana alone. Additionally, one must perform this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.6 

I would highly recommend that you should perform Kandharasana either before or after any forward-bend position. Kandharasana usually acts as a preparatory pose for chakrasana. To avail maximum benefits, you can do three rounds of kandharasana or more according to your level of physical fitness.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Other benefits of Kandharasana: 

  • Asanas like kandharasana may help improve digestion.2 
  • It may help in reducing stress and anxiety.5 
  • It may help relieve back pain.3 
  • It helps in strengthening the shoulders and improvement of postural alignment.3 
  • The activation of the solar plexus or manipura chakra by kandharasana may help in improving confidence, willpower and cognitive function. 

Note- The above-mentioned benefits of kandharasana are not proven in any human study yet, and are based on a literature search.  

Yoga practice may help develop the mind and body; however, it is still not an alternative to modern medicine. Therefore, you must not rely on Yoga alone to treat any condition. Instead, please consult a qualified doctor who will be able to assess your condition correctly and advise accordingly. Moreover, it is necessary to practice and learn Yoga under the supervision of a trained yoga teacher to avoid any injuries. 

Risks of Kandharasana: 

Conditions, where kandharasana should be performed with caution are:  

  • The elderly and children are at high risk for advanced-level yogasanas, it is best to perform this asana with caution under the guidance of a qualified trainer.   

Conditions, where kandharasana is contraindicated include: 3 

  • As in this asana, the body weight is supported on the shoulders; people with shoulder, knee and elbow injuries should avoid doing this asana.3 
  • People with slip discs, and inflammation of the stomach or intestines, must avoid this asana.3 
  • People with stomach ulcers must avoid the practice of this asana.3 
  • Pregnant women must refrain from practising this asana.3 
  • People with cerebral palsy find it difficult to move and maintain balance and body posture, so performing the practice of kandharasana should be avoided. 
  • It is best to avoid practising this asana if you have complaints of migraine or vertigo. 

Conclusion 

Kandharasana, or shoulder pose yoga, is a posture lifting the spine. The name is rooted in Sanskrit words ‘kandha,’ meaning shoulder, and ‘asana,’ meaning ‘pose or posture.’ Chakrasana is the preparatory pose for kandharasana. Any forward bending posture can be performed as a follow-up pose for kandharasana The practice of this asana may help improve lipid profile, menstrual cycle, breathing, manage obesity and improve cardiac health. Additionally, this asana may help improve digestion, strengthen shoulders, improve postural stability and may provide relief from back pain, stress and anxiety.    

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

1) What is the meaning of kandharasana in Sanskrit? 

Kandharasana, or shoulder pose yoga, is a posture lifting the spine. The name is rooted in Sanskrit words ‘kandha,’ meaning shoulder, and ‘asana,’ meaning ‘pose or posture.’ Chakrasana is the preparatory pose for kandharasana. Any forward bending posture can be performed as a follow-up pose for kandharasana.  In chakrasana, the back is arched, the head is lifted from the ground, and the whole body weight is supported on both the hands and legs. Whereas in kandharasana, the head rests on the ground, the chest and buttocks are raised, and the body weight is supported on the shoulders.1 

2) What is the preparatory pose for kandharasana? 

Chakrasana is the preparatory pose for kandharasana.2 

3) How to do kandharasana? 

First, lie flat on your back on a mat. Next, take a deep breath and bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the mat with your heels touching your buttocks. Ensure your feet and knees are hip-width apart.  Now, try to touch the ankles with your hands. This is the starting position. Next, slightly raise your buttocks and try to arch the back upward. Slowly lift your chest as high as possible, and avoid straining and moving the feet or shoulders. In this final position, your body will be supported by the head, neck, shoulders, arms, and feet. Breathe slowly and deeply and hold this pose for as long as possible.  Breathe out and return to the initial position, and practice for four-five rounds.3 

4) What are the benefits of kandharasana? 

The practice of this asana may help improve lipid profile, breathing, cardiac health, and menstrual cycle and manage obesity and hypothyroidism. Additionally, this asana may help improve digestion, reduce stress and anxiety, relieve back pain, strengthen shoulders and improve postural alignment.2-6 

5) Which chakras are activated by kandharasana? 

The practice of Kandharasana is known to activate the third eye chakra (Ajna chakra), crown chakra (Sahasrara chakra), solar plexus (Manipura chakra) and throat chakra (Vishuddha chakra). 

References: 

  1. Why You Should Try Yoga – Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center. Available at: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=2767 (Accessed: December 23, 2022).  
  1.  Kandharasana, Yogasmic. Available at: https://www.yogasmic.in/kandharassna/ (Accessed: December 23, 2022).  
  1. Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Asana Prayanama Mudra Bandha. Yoga Publication trust Bihar: India.1996; 201-203. Available at: https://thelonerider.com/pdf/asana_pranayama_mudra_bandha.pdf 
  1. Divya, T Satheesh et al. “Cardiopulmonary and Metabolic Effects of Yoga in Healthy Volunteers.” International journal of yoga vol. 10,3 (2017): 115-120. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.186162. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793005/ 
  1. Garima & Tiwari, Mamta & Scholar, D. (2022). YOGA THERAPY FOR MENSTRUAL WELLNESS. 9. 849-853. Available at:  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/363535339_YOGA_THERAPY_FOR_MENSTRUAL_WELLNESS 
  1. Mohan, Shuchi & PAL, RAMESWAR. (2022). Effect of yogic practices on thyroid hormones: A review. BLDE University Journal of Health Sciences. 7. 10.4103/bjhs.bjhs_23_21. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/358499692_Effect_of_yogic_practices_on_thyroid_hormones_A_review 

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