This posture awakens and strengthens all of the back muscles. It is not focused as much on spine flexibility but more on preparing the back for deeper backbends by building strength and awareness of the back extensors. This posture can help relieve back pain, improve digestion and correct poor posture.
HOW TO PERFORM
• Begin by lying flat on your stomach on your yoga mat.
• Bend your knees and reach your arms back to grab around your ankles, palms facing inwards.
• On an inhale, push your feet into your hands as if trying to straighten your legs and as the feet lift upwards away from the buttocks, the chest should lift up off the ground as well.
• Keep your low abdomen firmly engaged and breathe into your upper chest, enabling it to open and stretch.
• Make sure that your knees and feet stay hip width apart or closer together if possible, but never wider.
• Lift your chin gently so that the neck continues the arched line of your spine, without jamming the back of your neck. Gaze towards your nose.
• After 5-10 breaths rest in Child’s pose to counter stretch and neutralise your back and spine.
If the full pose doesn’t seem accessible to you yet, you can try the pose one leg and arm at a time. Another modification is to wrap a strap around both of your ankles and hold the ends in your hands, instead of holding the ankles in your hands, and try to lift up this way.
Avoid this pose if you have major back or neck injuries, or if you are pregnant.