23. Rabbit Pose
Bikram yoga heals, strengthens and transforms for many reasons, one of them being the specific order of poses. After compressing the spine in Camel, the previous backbending posture, we move into Sasangasana, a forward bend as a counterpose to stretch out the spine and release tension.
From a kneeling position, reach around and fold the edges of the towel over the heels and grab the heels and the towel together. Keep the grip firm with the thumbs on the outside and the fingers on the inside of the feet.
Tuck the chin into the chest and on an exhalation start to curl the torso slowly and tightly forward and inward until the forehead touches the knees and top of the head touches the floor.
If there is a gap between the forehead and the knees, walk the knees up to meet the forehead.
Whilst curling inward, lift the hips into the air and pull on the heels strongly, rolling the body forward like a wheel. Press the feet into the floor strongly and pull on the heels with all of your strength to keep the weight off the head and neck – there should be only 25% of your weight on your head.
Keep the chin tucked in firmly to the chest and engaging the belly to lift the hips, stretching deeper into the lower back. Work towards straightening the arms completely and try to reach the hips so high that the thighs are eventually perpendicular to the floor.
Breath normally and hold for 20 seconds.
Reverse out of the pose by lowering the hips back to the heels and simultaneously uncurling out slowly, lifting the chin last.
- Maximum spine stretch.
- Nourishes the nervous system through the intense spine stretch.
- Maintains the mobility and elasticity of the spine and back muscles.
- Improves the flexibility of the scapula and trapezius.
- Improves digestion.
- Compresses and nourishes the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
- Helps with sinus problems and chronic tonsillitis.