- One of the deepest releases of the whole spine
- Relaxes the heart, brings more blood flow to the head, drains the lungs, and compresses the internal organs, giving them a great massage
- This pose puts a lot of pressure on the neck; be cautious! Avoid if you have any neck problems.
- Not recommended for anyone with high blood pressure, upper body infection, vertigo, glaucoma, or a cold; also women during their menstrual cycle may find it better not to do this pose.
- If you have any lower back disorders which do not allow flexion of the spine, then do not attempt this posture.
- Do not do this posture if you have recently eaten or are pregnant.
Getting Into the Pose:
- Start in a lying down position. Lift your hips and support them with your hands. Allow your back to round (unlike the Plough pose (Halasana) in which we strive to keep the spine and legs straight) and your feet to fall over your head toward the floor. Position the weight of your body onto your shoulders; note how much weight is on your neck-some is okay, but not too much!
Alternatives & Options:
- There are many intermediate stages to this pose. For beginners, or those not wishing to invert, replace this pose with a seated, straight leg, forward fold (such as Caterpillar)
- There are three stages to the posture:
- Support the back with the palms.
- More challenging (but not shown) is to place palms under the feet and lower the feet to the floor, or rest them on a bolster.
- Most challenging is to bend the knees toward the floor (the deepest rounding for the spine).
- Very challenging option: with the knees bent toward the floor, twist until both knees are on one side of the head. Remember to do both sides.
- If legs are straight and feet are touching the floor, the hands can come to the floor behind the back. Hands can be apart (easier) or together (if there are no shoulder problems), but be careful; bringing the hands together could aggravate rotator cuff problems.
Coming Out of the Pose:
- The simplest way to come out is to keep the knees bent and hold your hips. Allow yourself to slowly roll down. Your head will likely lift up as you come down. Don’t strain to keep your head on the floor.
- More challenging is to come out with the legs straight and holding the feet. Slowly roll down, holding the feet as a way to slow your descent.
- After coming out, lie down for a few breaths with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Do Windshield Wipers then a gentle back bend, such as lying on the stomach, or a mild spinal lift. Come up only halfway.
- Gentle Fish (Matsyasana) helps to release the neck and move the spine into extension.
- If Fish pose is too much, if the neck feels weak or tweaked, do an Upward Facing Cat instead.
- Child’s Pose
Meridians & Organs Affected:
- All internal organs are massaged and compressed, and each breath adds to the massage.
- Urinary Bladder lines are deeply stretched.
- The full spine.
Recommended Hold Times:
- Three to five minutes.
Similar Yang Asanas:
- Halasana (Plough) or Karnapidasana (Resting Pose or Ear Pressure Pose).
- Prepare the neck first by doing gentle forward neck bends.
- A nice alternative is Happy Baby, which allows the sacrum to lift off the floor.
- Allow the spine to fully round. Do not try to keep the spine straight and the hips high.