From the lying relaxation pose, raise your arms up over your head, inhaling. Then as you exhale, bring the arms up from behind you and begin to lift your head, neck and back slowly with the breath. When you are fully sitting, straighten the spine and continue with your exhalation bringing yourself down towards the legs. The spine must remain straight as you attempt to bring the chest to the thighs. (Not the head to the knees – this comes later).
If you are a beginner or find yourself very stiff in this posture, then you may do it as a dynamic exercise, coming back when you need to inhale, and then coming forward on the exhalation again. Also as a beginner it would be acceptable to bend your knees slightly rather than bend your spine so much. The spine should remain as straight as possible.
As you become more flexible, you may remain down breathing with your abdomen, taking your ankles or toes in your hands and pulling VERY SLIGHTLY so that your body is gently drawn down as it relaxes and releases its tensions. Most people have a habit of trying to force this movement by tugging at the legs – this is simply a waste of time. Better to save your energy and stay longer in the posture with the mind on the body allowing the tense parts to relax.
A hint for this and other «compression postures» is to occasionally contract the abdomen with a deep exhalation. This allows you to come down a little farther. Other versions of this are to bend one leg and place the foot next to or on the thigh of the other leg. Then, of course, one would switch and to the same to the opposite side. Still another possibility is to have the legs spread. See picture. One should master the version in which both legs are straight before going on to the others.
These postures can be a powerful meditation within themselves. If you keep your mind on your body and begin to relax it from the toes up to the head (especially the center of the forehead – the Ajna chakra), then you will find yourself completely relaxing in a deep state of awareness. You may eventually remain up to 10 minutes in this posture. Let your time increase slowly to avoid back or leg pains. It is important to relax the abdomen in these postures.
REST WELL AFTER PERFORMING THIS POSTURE FOR A LONG TIME.
People with spinal problems should consult their teacher before doing this posture.
Contraindications: lower back problems, High blood pressure, detached retina
Benefits: The spine is completely stretched relieving backaches, sexual and other organic tensions. The heart and other organs are below the spine and receive extra blood. The head and neck are low. The abdomen is compressed and organs of digestion stimulated. The leg tension is released. This is a fantastic posture for the digestive system.