Mukhaikapda Paschimottanasana

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FIVE

Trianga means three limbs or parts thereof. In this posture the three parts are the feet, knees and buttocks. Mukhaikapada (a compound of three words, mukha = face, eka = one, and pada = leg or foot) corresponds to the face (or mouth) touching one (extended) leg. In Paschimottanasana (Plate 81) the back of the whole body is intensely stretched.

technique

1. Sit on the floor, with the legs stretched straight in front. (Plate 35)

2. Bend the right leg at the knee and move the right foot back. Place the right foot by the side of the right hip joint, keep the toes pointing back and rest them oh the floor. The inner side of the right calf will touch the outer side of the right thigh.

3. Balance in this position, throwing the weight of the body on the bent knee. In the beginning, the body tilts to the side of the outstretched leg, and the foot of the outstretched leg also tilts outwards. Learn to balance in this position, keeping the foot and toes stretched and pointing forward.

4. Now hold the left foot with both the palms, gripping the sides of the sole. If you can, then extend the trunk forward and hook the wrists round the

outstretched left foot. (Plate 68) Take two deep breaths. It usually takes several months before one can hook the wrists in this way, so do not despair after the first few attempts.

5. Join the knees, exhale and bend forward. Rest first the forehead, then the nose, next the lips and ultimately the chin on the left knee. (Plate 69) To achieve this, widen the elbows and push the trunk forward with an exhalation.

6. Do not rest the left elbow on the floor. In the beginning, one loses balance and topples over to the side of the extended leg. The trunk should, therefore, be slightly bent towards the side of the bent leg and the weight of the body should be taken by the bent knee.

7. Stay in this position from half a minute to a minute, breathing evenly.

8. Inhale, raise the head and trunk, release the hands, straighten the right leg and come to position 1.

9. Repeat the pose on the other side, keeping the right leg stretched out on the ground, bending the left knee and placing the left foot by the left hip joint. Stay for the same length of time on both sides.

Paschimottanasana Asana

EFFECTS

This asana is recommended for persons suffering from dropped arches and flat feet: It cures sprains in the ankle and the knee, and any swelling in the leg is reduced.

Along with Janu Sirsasana (Plate 63) and Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana (Plate 66), this asana tones the abdominal organs and keeps them free from sluggishness. We abuse our abdominal organs by over-indulgence or by conforming to social etiquette. Abdominal organs cause a majority of diseases and ancient sages emphasized that their health was essential for longevity, happiness and peace of mind. These forward bending asanas keep the abdominal organs healthy and in trim. Apart from keeping the muscles in shape, they work on the organs as well.

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