Before its perversion in Nazi Germany, the svastika served as a solar symbol for good fortune. This is also its meaning in Yoga. The term is made up of the prefix su ("good") and asti ("is"): "It's good."
The svastikasana improves the flexibility of the hips, knees, and ankles and strengthens the back. The following instructions help you get the hang of this posture.
Use the preparation series for advanced sitting postures in Chapter 6 to improve your performance for this posture.
1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you; place your hands on the floor beside your hips with your palms down and fingers pointing forward.
Shake your legs up and down a few times to get the kinks out.
2. Bend your left knee and place the left foot sole against the inside of your right thigh with your left heel close to your groin.
If this step is difficult, don't use this pose.
3. Bend your right knee toward you and take hold of your right foot with both hands.
4. Grip the front of your ankle with your right hand and the ball of your big toe with your left; slide the little-toe side of your foot between your left thigh and calf until only your big toe is visible, wiggling the big-toe side of your left foot up between the right thigh and calf if you can.
5. Rest your hands on your knees with your arms relaxed and palms down.
6. Lengthen your spine by stretching your back in an upward motion, balance your head over your torso, and look straight ahead as illustrated in Figure 6-4.
Note: In the classic posture, the chin rests on the chest with the arms straight down and palms open in jnana mudra at the knees. The bottom or left foot is pulled up and wedged between the right calf and thigh.
Jnana mudra (pronounced gyah-nah moo-drah) or "wisdom seal" is one of a number of hand positions used in Yoga. To do this mudra, bring the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb to form a circle; extend the three remaining fingers, keeping them close together (as shown in Figure 6-5). This hand gesture makes a good circuit, sealing off the life energy (prana) in your body. (Check out Chapter 5 for more on prana.)
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