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nVERY EASY

Lie face down with your legs extended behind you and your feet hip width apart. Rest the top of your feet on the floor.

Stretch your arms straight in front of you, with your palms facing down.

Rest your forehead on the floor.

Bend your elbows and slide your hands back toward you.

• Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders and your forearms should be flat on the floor.

Spread your fingers out, with your middle fingers pointing straight ahead.

Lift your chest forward. Feel your chest opening and expanding with each breath.

What should I do if my lower back feels strained in Sphinx Pose?

To reduce the strain in your lower back, place a folded blanket under your abdomen, just above your pubic bone. As you perform the pose, your pubic bone should still be able to rest on the floor. This modification also helps you lift your upper body into the pose.

How can I stretch my neck in Sphinx Pose?

As you hold the pose, you can perform a neck stretch. Keeping the crown of your head pointing toward the ceiling, turn your head to the right and look over your right shoulder for 5 to 10 seconds. Then turn your head to the left and look over your left shoulder for another 5 to 10 seconds.

Exhale as you gently press your hips and pelvis into the floor.

• Make sure you keep your hips and pelvis pressed to the floor throughout the pose, but do not squeeze your buttocks.

Make sure you maintain length through your neck and keep your shoulders back and down as you lengthen your spine.

Point the crown of your head toward the ceiling and gaze straight ahead.

• Visualize the long, even curve of your spine as you rest, like the Sphinx, in the desert sand.

Hold the pose for 15 seconds to 1 minute.

• After performing Sphinx Pose, you should perform a forward bend, such as Child's Pose, to release your lower back.

cobra

(bhujangasana)

Cobra Pose develops strength and flexibility in your spine and back, with an emphasis on your lower back.

While performing daily tasks, most people bend forward more often than they bend backward. Cobra Pose acts as a counterbalance to this tendency to bend forward, helping to keep your spine strong and supple. This pose also opens your chest to help increase your lung capacity and stimulates your nervous system to invigorate your body.

Your lower back is vulnerable to compression because it is the easiest part of your spine to bend. To avoid compressing your lower back, make sure you lengthen through your entire spine as you curl your spine up.

Although your arms support your upper body in this pose, you should only lift your upper body using your spine, not your arms. Continue to straighten your arms only while you feel your spine lengthening and you can keep your shoulders and elbows relaxed.

Avoid performing Cobra Pose if you have back problems.

§ MODERATE

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Lie flat on the floor with your legs no wider than hip width apart. Your forehead and the top of your feet should be resting on the floor.

Place your palms on the floor under your shoulders.

Spread your fingers out, with your middle fingers pointing straight ahead.

• Your elbows should be close to your sides.

Exhale as you gently press your pelvis toward the floor.

• Make sure you keep your pelvis pressed into the floor throughout the pose, but do not squeeze your buttocks.

Inhale as you begin to curl your spine up, one vertebra at a time.

Slowly lift your forehead, nose and chin off the floor. Then raise your head to look forward.

My spine is stiff. Can I still perform Cobra Pose?

If your spine is stiff, you may want to perform an easier back bend, such as Sphinx Pose, to build up strength and flexibility in your spine. For information on Sphinx Pose, see page 194. When you are ready to try Cobra Pose, you should perform a modified version of the pose. When going into Cobra Pose, place your palms on the floor in front of your shoulders, instead of under your shoulders. This modification lengthens your spine, which helps ensure you do not strain your back.

Can I modify Cobra Pose to incorporate movement?

Yes. As you perform Cobra Pose, you can move your upper body up and down with your breath. Inhale as you slowly lift your chest off the floor and then exhale as you slowly lower your chest back down to the floor. You can repeat this movement three to five times and then hold the pose. Incorporating movement into Cobra Pose can help you further elongate your spine before holding the pose.

10 Hold the pose for 5 to 15 seconds.

Continue curling your spine up to bring your chest off the floor.

• Make sure you maintain length through your neck and keep your shoulders back and down as you curl your spine.

Press your hands into the floor and slowly straighten your arms to help lift your upper body further off the floor.

• Make sure you do not use the strength of your arms to lift your upper body.

Point the crown of your head toward the ceiling and gaze straight ahead.

• Visualize the long, even curve of your spine.

10 Hold the pose for 5 to 15 seconds.

• After performing Cobra Pose, you should perform a forward bend, such as Child's Pose, to release your lower back.

The Hindu-Yogi Science of Breath

The Hindu-Yogi Science of Breath

A complete guide on Eastern practices of breathing, mental, psychic and spiritual development. The book teaches that Yoga is divided into several branches, ranging from that which teaches the control of the body, to that which teaches the attainment of the highest spiritual development.

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