In Thailand, the sphinx deity is known as thep norasingh. It is believed to take away the sins of devotees when they enter a temple, and helps ward off evil in general.
The yoga sphinx (salamba bhujangasana) is known to ward off the sins of lower back pain and bless the body with a lengthened spine.
This posture is such a gift, I thought it important to add it to my latest series of life changing asanas.
A few years ago I taught a few Australian cricket players some yoga asana to ease their shoulder and back issues, and this sphinx posture was a big hit with the cricketers, they now swear by this pose as a great way to ease back, hip and shoulder stiffness.
You know those days you have when you feel as if you might just crumble from the sheer exhaustion of a stiff back and shoulders? When you feel like the Tin Man with no oil in his can?
Well, the sphinx posture is for you. Why you ask? I will tell you:
Excellent for lengthening the abdominal muscles
Great for warming the spine in preparation for other activities
The mild backbend awakens the upper back and increases awareness in the thoracic spine
Stimulates the kidneys and adrenal glands through compression
Can be a very deep compression and stimulation of the sacral-lumbar arch (lower back)
Tones the spine. People with bulging or herniated disks may find this very therapeutic
Stretches and lengthens the spine, chest, lungs, shoulders and abdomen
Strengthens the back, spine and hips
Stimulates the functioning of the abdominal organs, thereby promoting health and vitality
Relieves stress, tension and anxiety.
Traditional texts say it increases body heat, destroys disease and awaken Kundalini energy.
If you are hanging around and reading the newspaper or watching television then the sphinx pose is a perfect way to sit while you spend that time. Here is how to perform the sphinx pose:
1. Lie on your stomach, with your legs stretched out behind you and relaxed.
2. Place your hands flat on the floor with your elbows under your shoulders. Your elbows should be shoulder-width apart.
3. Stretch your hands forward. The bend in your elbows should be approximately ninety degrees. Spread your fingertips wide apart from one another and root down through your hands and elbows.
4. Your hips and bottom are relaxed, however your hips are sinking and stay fixed to the mat or towel underneath you. See photo 1.
5. Inhale and lengthen the chest, stomach and back closer towards your fingers, away from your hips, exhale and relax the back and bottom.
6. Inhale again and lengthen the crown of the head (chin tucked to the chest) and upper spine upwards while still sinking the elbows, try to roll your shoulder blades down your back. See photo 2.
7 It is important to keep the lower back and bottom relaxed as much as possible.
8. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute when first practising this asana, working towards 5 minute holds. The longer the hold, the better.
If you find this yoga pose difficult to perform, you may lie on a U-shaped towel (photo 2) to support the belly lift. The bottom of the towel should be slightly above your pubic bone, and its sides should be supporting your belly laterally.
Until next month happy stretching and safe wet weather travelling.
The opinions and advice contained in this column are those of the author only. The Phuket News is not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any situation.