This asana helps to strengthen the spinal muscles and gives a good massage to the abdomen and pelvic organs. The benefits in this respect are similar to bhujangasana.

Sarpasana has a particularly notable influence on the lungs. The two lungs are composed of millions of alveoli (air cells) which facilitate the exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide. The oxygen is taken into the body and the carbon dioxide is removed from the body. If these tiny air cells remain active and the lungs elastic then the lungs retain their general health and efficiency. The natural way of maintaining a healthy pair of lungs is regular, deep respiration. This successively inflates and deflates the tiny alveoli and at the same time stretches the elastic tissue of the lungs.

Many people, sad to say, do not breathe properly. They do not utilize anywhere near the maximum usable capacity of the lungs. Consequently the alveoli tend to become unhealthy through under-activity or inactivity. Sarpasana is a useful asana to help rectify this situation. In the final pose the breath is retained inside the lungs and a large proportion of the body weight is supported on the abdomen. This raises the pressure within the abdomen, which in turn pushes the diaphragm towards the chest. This pressurizes the air within the lungs and helps to uncrumple and open out inactive alveoli allowing them to resume their normal duties. The effective surface area of exchange in the lungs is in this way increased. This improves the removal of carbon dioxide from the body and the intake of oxygen for distribution to all parts of the organism.

The heart also benefits from sarpasana as the increased pressure within the chest cavity applies a good massage to the heart. Normally, of course, it is impossible to massage the heart for it is imprisoned by the ribs. Sarpasana overcomes this obstacle and tones the heart and strengthens its muscles. The whole body is dependent on a good supply of blood and sarpasana helps in this way to improve one's physical health.


An important though small group of asanas are those that twist the spine. Meru vakrasana is one of the simplest of this group. It supplements the backward and forward bending asanas that we have already described.

The Sanskrit word meru means 'mountain'. In India the spine is known as the merudand, which means 'mountainous stick', for the vertebrae of the spine jut out like a range of mountains. The word vakra means 'curved'. The asana is so called because it twists the spine while accentuating its curvature.

Lessons in Raja Yoga

Lessons in Raja Yoga

An easy to understand book on the principles and practices of Raja-Yoga alike. It teaches the eight steps

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment