Parsva Pindasana in Sarvangasana (Side Embryo in Shoulderstand) registers as 8* on Iyengar’s 60* scale of difficulty. The pose bears similarities to Pindasana in Sarvangasana andÂ Parsva Halasana in Sarvangasana.
Iyengar provides no explanation after each Shoulderstand inÂ Light on Yoga about the benefits of each variation. His lack of commentary has puzzled me for weeks. After the final Shoulderstand variation, though, Iyengar provides an explanation of why the practitioner should consider all of the variations previously outlined:Â ”The spine is given the forward, lateral and backward movements in these variations of Sarvangasana… These movements tone the spine on all sides and keep it healthy.”
To fully illustrate the importance of maintaining a healthy spine, Iyengar relates the following story. In the first age of the universe, the Kriya Age, invincible giants and demons (Danavas)Â roamed the earth under the leadership of Vrtra and drove out the gods (the Devas). The gods knew they must destroy Vrtra in order to regain their power. Vishnu advised them to find the bones of a sage named Dadhicha from which they would fashion a fierce weapon. The gods pleaded with the sage to renounce his body for the benefit of the world and Dadhicha complied. A thunderbolt was created out of his spine. Indra hurled the thunderbolt at Vrtra, killing him and restoring peace to the land.
Iyengar explains the symbolism of the story beautifully. “The Danavas represent the tamasic qualities in men and diseases. The Devas represent health, harmony and peace. To destroy the tamasic qualities and the diseases due to them and to enjoy health and happiness, we have to make our spines strong as a thunderbolt like the spine of Dadhicha. Then we shall enjoy health, harmony and happiness in abundance.”
The next time you approach Shoulderstand with a sense of bored complacency, rekindle the memory of this story. Cultivate the strength of your spine to combat disease and welcome health in.