Although the crocodiles are rightfully included among relaxation postures, their architecture, both with respect to arm position and to breathing, does not lend them to the same kind of deep relaxation as the corpse posture. It would be rare for a class of students to hold the crocodile for more than a minute or so, but an extravagant teacher might hold a class of experienced students in the corpse posture for half an hour or more.
One reason the stretched-out crocodile is less effective for complete relaxation than the corpse posture is that it produces a more complex mode of breathing (fig. 2.23). To reiterate, in the prone position the abdomen is pressed against the floor, and the downward thrust of the dome of the diaphragm has to push the abdominal organs inferiorly and lift the entire body, rather than push the abdominal wall forward as happens in the corpse posture. This is a type of abdominal breathing, but the movement > (' the entire body in the crocodile, together with the extra effort needed I j breathe, makes it more difficult to relax.
The beginner's crocodile, with the arms at a 45-90° angle from the flex also prevents complete relaxation. In addition to the effort required > press the abdominal organs inferiorly (which also happens in the stretched-e t crocodile), the beginner's crocodile requires diaphragmatic breathing (chap r 2), and this creates movement in the chest that in turn activates even more if the body (fig. 2.24). And that applies to someone who is relatively comfortab The problem is compounded in those who are not.
The full crocodile (fig. 10.3) yields either abdominal or diaphragm;i c breathing depending on the length of the arms. If they are long enough to e flat while you tuck the head into the crook of the elbows, we see a situat 1 1 similar to the easy stretched-out crocodile, which yields abdominal breathi 1 ;. In this case the posture is very relaxing, at least for those who ha e thoroughly accustomed themselves to the pose. But if your arms a e shorter, you will have to arch the upper back and neck upward in ord r to place the top of the head in the crook of the elbows, and in that ca e your chest will be lifted as in the beginner's crocodile, which requir s you to breathe diaphragmatically and which again checks relaxation.
One indirect way in which the crocodile posture furthers relaxation s that the arm position tends to prevent thoracic breathing, which as we sa in chapter 2 stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and prepares tl body for activity. Because of the anatomical restrictions to chest breathin the easy stretched-out crocodile pose is an excellent posture for compellin r chest breathers to come in touch with relaxation and abdominal breathing and the beginner's crocodile is possibly the best all-around posture (as we as the only relaxation posture) for teaching chest breathers diaphragmati' breathing.
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