Lie flat on your back.
Bend the legs and place the heels near the buttocks; the feet should be about half a metre apart.
Bend the arms and place the hands on the ground beside the back of the head; the fingers should point towards the shoulders with the palms flat on the floor.
This is the starting position.
Relax the whole body for a few seconds in preparation for performing the final pose.
Breathe in deeply.
Then raise the head and trunk off the ground by straightening the legs and arms; the feet and hands should not be moved. Try to arch the back as much as possible to take the final pose.
Let the head hang between the two straight arms.
The degree of bend in the back can be accentuated by bending or straightening the knees, and allowing the shoulders to move over the arms.
Do not try to bend the back more than its flexibility will allow.
This is the final pose. Breathe slowly and deeply. Stay in the final pose for as long as is comfortable.
Then slowly return to the starting position by slowly lowering the body to the ground. The asana can be repeated once or twice ifyou have sufficient energy and time.
Inhale deeply in the starting position. Hold the breath while elevating the body to the final pose. Breathe as deeply and slowly as possible in the final pose. Breathe in before lowering the body. Hold the breath while lowering the body to the starting pose.
Use of mat
We suggest that you practise chakrasana on a bare floor, for a mat or blanket can slip and cause injury.
If your back is very stiff then we strongly advise you not to attempt to perform chakr-asana. Instead, you should systematically loosen up your spine over a period of time by doing other backward bending asanas such as dhanurasana1, ushtrasana2 and so forth. You can also practise setu asana.
At first it is a little difficult to raise the body directly from the ground to the final pose. We therefore suggest that you adopt an intermediate stage; from the starting position raise your body so that you can bend your head backwards. Then rest the top of the head on the ground and support the weight of the body temporarily on the head. From this intermediate position, it is much easier to attain the final pose.
If you can comfortably and easily do chakr-asana in the way we have described, then you can accentuate the flexion of the back in the final pose by progressively and carefully moving the hands and feet closer towards each other. Be careful not to strain.
Direct your attention to relaxing the spine in the final pose. When you can easily perform chakrasana, then direct your attention to slow and deep breathing in the final pose.
At first you will only be able to stay in the final pose for a few seconds. With practice you can extend the duration in the final pose to up to two minutes. Be sure not to strain.
If you have sufficient time you can perform chakrasana two or three times. But do not attempt it if you feel even slightly tired.
Chakrasana is an excellent counterpose for all forward bending asanas. It is particularly useful as a counterpose to asanas such as halasana and sarvangasana which apply a tight foiward lock on the neck. Chakrasana stretches the neck in the opposite direction and quickly releases tension. If possible, try to do a foiward bending asana after chakrasana.
Chakrasana should not be practised by people who suffer from high blood pressure, heart problems, stomach ulcers, dilated eye pupils or hernia, or by anyone who has weak arms. Also, it should not be attempted by anyone who has recently undergone any abdominal operation or who has fractured any bones. Pregnant women should not do it.
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