Volcano Mahamudra

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Ancient Hatha Yoga texts give high praise to the volcano posture. It strengthens the back, stretches the legs, and opens the hips and chest. This posture is unique in that has qualities of both a forward bend and a back bend. When used with special locks (bandhas) that contain and channel energy in the torso, this technique has both cleansing and healing effects.

Here's how to do it:

1. Sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you, bend your left knee and bring your left foot toward your right groin.

2. Rest your bent left knee on the floor to the left (but don't force it down), and place the sole of your left foot on the inside of your right thigh with your heel in your groin.

The toes of left foot point toward the right knee.

3. Bring your back up nice and tall; as you inhale, raise your arms forward and up overhead until they're beside your ears.

Keep your arms and the right leg soft and slightly bent in Forgiving Limbs, as we describe in Chapter 3. Refer to Figure 11-11a in the preceding section if necessary.

4. As you exhale, bend forward from the hips, lift your chest forward, and extend your back without letting it round.

Place your hands on the right knee, shin, or toes and look straight ahead (see Figure 11-12).

5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 three times and then stay in Step 4 for 6 to 8 breaths.

6. Repeat the same sequence on the opposite side.

Note: In the classic posture, the front leg and the arms are straight, and the hands are holding the toes of the front leg. The back is extended and the chin is pressed on the chest. The abdominal muscles are pulled up into the abdominal cavity and the anal sphincter is tightened.

The Sanskrit term mahamudra (pronounced mah-hah-mood-rah) means literally "great seal." Here it applies to a Yoga posture, but in other contexts, mahamudra is a mental exercise that allows your mind to flow out into the open sky. Try combining this inner "attitude" with the physical pose.

Figure 11-12:

The volcano is a great, all-inclusive posture.

Figure 11-12:

The volcano is a great, all-inclusive posture.

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Unite Mind Body Spirit With Yoga

Unite Mind Body Spirit With Yoga

Practitioners of yoga talk about a unification of body, mind and spirit acquired through practicing the yoga exercises and techniques. Learn more within this guide.

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