If you can’t sit between your feet, do this pose with legs extended or, if you prefer, with the soles of your feet together (see Easier Options below). It’s very restful and allows your chest to passively open, easing tension all around the upper back and torso. Combining this posture with Ujjayi Pranayama further enhances the relaxing benefits of the pose.
- Get a stack of cushions and arrange them so you have a shorter stack in front. Get a smaller pillow or a folded towel for your neck and place it on the others.
- Sit in front of the pillows, buttocks touching them but not on them, with your legs extended.
- Bend one knee up, then back, taking hold of your ankle and bringing your heel alongside your buttock.
- Repeat with the other leg so that you are sitting between your heels.
- Place your hands on the floor for support, and slowly lean back over the pillows. Adjust the small pillow or folded towel to support your neck.
- Rest your arms on the floor, palms up. Close your eyes and relax completely.
- Gently contract your throat so you can hear the breath as you breathe in and out evenly at a comfortable rhythm. Stay here for as long as you like.
- Turn your palms down and gently push up to a sitting position.
- Slowly extend your legs, one at a time.
- Take the time to make sure your pillows are set up so that you’re perfectly comfortable, otherwise you won’t be able to fully relax. You can use a bolster if you have one, with folded blankets or cushions on top for the second level. Or prop the bolser up on a block laid flat so that it slants upward.
- Visualize drawing the breath in through your throat; the sound it makes is like the sound of a sleeping baby.
- If you feel any discomfort in your knees, practice with legs extended.
- Try it with your legs in Cobbler—soles of the feet together, knees out to the sides. If your knees don’t reach the ground, prop folded blankets, blocks, or cushions under your thighs for support.
- If your breath becomes forced or strained, just breathe normally.
- Releases neck, shoulder, chest, and back tension
- Relieves fatigue
- Stretches the thigh muscles
- Gently stretches the abdominal organs
- Slows the heartbeat
- Calms the mind