Vyaghrasana (Tiger Pose) This asana is so called because it emulates the stretching movement made by a tiger. A tiger, as well as various other animals, stretches its limbs generously and indulgently in a similar manner to the movements of the asana, especially after awakening from deep sleep. Vyaghrasana is an excellent asana for exercising the digestive, eliminative and reproductive organs and the entire spine from top to bottom. Technique Kneel on the floor, feet and knees slightly separated. Lean forwards and place both hands flat on the floor, palms downwards. Adjust the position of the hands so that they are slightly apart and when your trunk is parallel with the ground the arms and thighs are vertical. The hands should be directly below the shoulders. Relax your whole body.
Slowly bend the right leg and swing the thigh up to the chest. Simultaneously arch your back upwards and bend your head towards the upcoming knee while breathing out. The right foot should not touch the floor. At the end of this movement try to bring your chin or nose in contact with the right knee while pressing the right thigh against the chest. Fix your eyes on the knee for a second or so. Hold your breath. Then while inhaling slowly move your right knee backwards again. Don't lower your knee to the ground, but continue the swinging movement so that the knee moves backwards and upwards behind the body, keeping the right foot off the ground. Simultaneously progressively stretch the right leg so that it is eventually straight and pointing away from the arms. Then bend your right knee so that the right foot finally points in the direction of the back of the head.
From the position shown in figure 1 to the present position, the head should be slowly bent backwards and the spine arched downwards to attain the position in figure 2. Try to bring the back of the head as near as possible to the right toes. Hold your breath in this position for a short period. Continue to hold your breath and straighten your right leg so that it points backwards again. Exhale while bending the right leg and returning to the position shown in figure 1. This is 1 round. Do a few more rounds. Then perform the same actions with the left leg, keeping the right leg fixed on the ground. Breathing, awareness and duration Exhale while bringing the knee and thigh towards the chest. Hold the breath while pressing the thigh to the chest and the knee to the chin or nose. Inhale while swinging the knee backwards and stretching the leg. Hold the breath and simultaneously bend the leg so that the foot points to the back of the head. Hold this pose for a short period of time. Awareness should be on the physical movement and the breathing pattern. Repeat this asana five times with each leg. Time of practice This asana can be done at almost any time of the day except after meals and at any stage during your asana program.
However, if you feel like imitating the animals, and in many ways we have a lot to learn from them, try doing this asana on waking up in the morning. It is a useful practice for stretching the muscles and stimulating the blood circulation.
Benefits Vyaghrasana flexes and loosens the entire spine by bending it alternately in both directions - backwards and forwards. It thereby tones the associated spinal nerves. As we have already indicated, it also massages the lower organs of the body concerned with digestion, elimination and reproduction. It loosens up the legs and generally prepares the body for normal functioning, especially after sleep. Women who suffer from sexual ailments like leucorrhoea should do this asana on a regular basis. It is very helpful, especially when supplemented by other asanas, in rectifying this type of problem. Women who have just completed childbirth should also do this asana to bring about normality and firmness in the relevant areas. Sufferers of sciatica have obtained some relief from the asana, but one should be careful.
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