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Benefits: Prevents the heart arteries from thickening and ensures healthy blood circulation, while also toning the muscles around the spine and abdomen.
As with all exercise, you need to listen to your body, keep the back of the neck and spine lengthened and the rib cage lifted. Remember to breathe as you work with the different exercises.
NOTE: This is an advanced level pose, requiring a high degree of flexibility in the back and strength in the arms and legs. To boost flexibility try lying on your yoga mat with a bolster placed underneath your lower back. Alternatively, stretches that utilise chairs and other props including Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) can be used to stretch the spine while providing support for the lower back.
Lie on your back on your yoga mat. Bend your knees so that your ankles are resting against your buttocks, with your feet hip-width apart (you can use your hands to pull your feet closer if needed). Bend your elbows and bring your arms over your head, placing your palms on the floor on either side of your head, with your fingers pointing towards your shoulders.
Tighten the muscles in your back, exhale, and lift your lower torso and buttocks off the floor. Ensure you maintain breathing steadily. Firm the arms and lift your chest off the ground, placing the top of your head on the floor. Take a deep breath in before quickly exhaling so as to further draw in your back and buttocks. Move your weight from your palms to your feet, and push your torso upwards. Adjust your weight until it is spread evenly across your arms and legs, centring at the base of the spine.
Push your torso further upwards, lifting from your lower back while keeping your feet and palms firmly planted on the floor. Lift your head from the floor and pull your spine into your body. Extend until your arms are straight and you can lock your elbows. Allow your head fall naturally, drawing it further back to look towards the floor if you can do so without straining your throat.
Breathe and hold the asana for 5 – 10 second, before slowly returning to the mat. Repeat the pose 3-10 times as desired.