So I thought it only fitting that this month’s asana be the best of both worlds – lying down and stretching.
Anantasana (sleeping Vishnu pose) has many great physical benefits which we will discuss but the position also has quite a nice tale of hindu mythology attached to it.
In Light on Yoga, BKS Iyengar says of Anantasana, “According to Hindu mythology, Vishnu sleeps in the primeval ocean on his couch Sesa, the thousand-headed serpent... in his sleep a lotus grows from his navel. In that lotus is born the Creator Brahma, who fashions the world. After the creation, Vishnu awakens to reign in the highest heaven, Vaikuntha.”
With the effort and attention you bring to this pose it helps to bring calm and stability in the midst of change. Practicing this pose will benefit you by providing the following:
•Stretches the backs of the legs
•Stretches the sides of the torso
•Tones the belly
•Gives the side of your body a good massage
•Strengthens the armpits and shoulders
When you lie down on the left hand side, the blood circulation in this area automatically gets stimulated. Blood and oxygen circulation in your heart and brain increases.
In certain cases, practising this asana regularly can help you lessen back pain problems. It even helps in improving your digestive system.
Here are the steps to follow when practising this posture.
1. Lie on the floor on your right side. Press actively through your right heel, flex the ankle, and use the outside of the foot to stabilize the position (if you still feel unstable, brace your soles against the wall. See picture 1)
2. Stretch your right arm straight out along the floor parallel to your torso, so that you create one long line from the heels to your finger tips. Bend your right elbow and support your head in your palm. Slide the elbow away from your torso to stretch the armpit.
3. Externally rotate your left leg so the toes point toward the ceiling, then bend and draw the knee toward your torso. Reach across the inside of the leg and take hold of the left big toe with your index and middle fingers. Secure the grip by wrapping the thumb around the two fingers. (If you’re not able to comfortably hold the toe, loop a strap around the sole and hold the strap. See picture 2.) While you inhale, extend the leg up toward the ceiling.
4. The raised leg will likely angle slightly forward, while the top buttock will drop back. Firm the sacrum against the pelvis; this creates a kind of fulcrum that will help you move the leg slightly back toward a perpendicular position.
5. Press actively through both heels. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release the leg, take a few breaths, and roll over onto your left side. Repeat for the same length of time.
Thank you and see you next month. Happy stretching!