Sphinx
SĀLAMBA BHUJANGĀSANA (सालम्ब भुजङ्गासन)
(sah-LOM-bah bhoo-jahn-GAAH-sah-nah)

 


‘Sālamba’= supported or with support, ‘Bhujanga’= snake or serpent, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Naraviralasana
Niravalasana

Difficulty Level: Beginner
Pose Type: Back-Bend / Prone

1. Lay on your belly in prone position or Reverse Corpse (Advasana), with your legs hip distance apart and parallel, arms by your sides, palms and feet face down, and your forehead on the mat.
2. Bring your arms forward so that your shoulders are stacked over your elbows, palms flat, and fingers spread out. Keeping your upper arms perpendicular to the floor, and your elbows hugging your sides, push down through your forearms and start to slightly arch your back and lift the chest.
3. Keep your pelvis rooted to the mat and engage your upper back and shoulder muscles to keep your shoulder blades down. Open your chest, lengthen down the shoulder blades, and bring your head up to gaze forward.
4. Keep your throat soft and the back of the neck long. Engage your quadriceps to keep the tops of your thighs and feet flat on the floor. Slightly tighten (firm not harden) the buttocks.
5. Hold for several breaths and then release back into a prone position or Reverse Corpse (Advasana).

Common Adjustments
• Elbows pushed out away from the body
• Overarching the neck (strained neck) and/or lifting gaze too high
• Lifting too high and putting too much pressure on the lower back and/or lifts hips
• Shoulders hunched or raised up by the ears, and chest collapsed
• Pinching or compression in the lower back (lumbar)
• Legs too far apart or lifted to get into posture
• Lifting the tops of the feet

Modifications
• If students feel too much stress in their backs, have them position their elbows and forearms wider apart or lower the angle of the spine to avoid pain.
• If there is too much pressure on the lower abdomen and hips, causing discomfort, place a blanket or pillow under the pelvis and abdomen for support. Alternatively, you can place a small bolster under the abdomen.
• Students with discomfort in the forearms or wrists can place a folded blanket or mat under them.
• Starting from the second trimester and on, pregnant students should do Cat and Cow Pose (Durga-Go), so they do not put undue stress on the abdomen.
• For advanced students, they can practice by bending their knees to raise the lower legs, position their legs into Eagle legs, position their legs into Bound Angle, or stretch their leg out to the side with a bent knee into half frog legs. This increases the stretch in the thighs, inner thighs, calf muscles, groin, abdomen, and/or obliques. Alternatively, they can raise their gaze to the sky to further open the chest.

Counter Poses
• Wide Child’s Pose (Prasarita Balasana)
• Child’s Pose (Balasana)
• Cat (Marjaryasana)
• Corpse (Savasana)
• Reverse Corpse (Advasana)
• Knees to Chest (Apanasana)
• Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
• Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Anatomy
• Shoulders (Deltoid) and Chest (Pectoralis Major)• Biceps and Triceps
• Abdomen (Core)• Lower (Lumbar), Middle (Thoracic), and Upper (Cervical) Back and Spine
• Gluteus Maximus• Quadriceps and Hamstrings

Benefits
• Strengthens and stretches chest, shoulders, spine, lungs, hips, neck, ankles, thighs, back, and abdomen and firms the buttocks.
• Increases body heat and circulation, thus purifying the blood. It also calms the nervous system which relieves tension, stress, anxiety, mild depression, and migraines. This helps relieve stress, backache, fatigue, discomfort from sciatica or herniated disks, neck pain, menstrual discomfort, and constipation.
• Improves posture / alignment, increases flexibility and the spine’s range of potion. Lengthens the spine.
• Supports and improves digestion and stimulates appetite. Also massages internal organs like the kidneys, liver, and thyroid gland and helps relieve flatulence and constipation through pressure on the abdomen. It also helps with gynecological disorders.
• Opens the chest, neck / throat, and shoulders and strengthens the lungs, which helps with asthma or respiratory problems. Also stimulates the lymphatic system.
• Improves overall back and neck health and energizes the legs.

Contraindications
1. Students with severe asthma, severe back injuries, spinal injury, neck injury, spondylitis, scoliosis, slipped disc, have had abdominal surgery, or are pregnant should avoid this pose due to pressure on the lower abdomen, back, and neck.
2. Students with headaches, an arm injury, or shoulder injury, should avoid this pose, unless they have their doctor’s approval. If practiced, practice with modifications, props, and guidance.
3. Students with ulcers and other stomach disorders should avoid this pose without modifications, guidance, and support.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra TwoSacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.
Chakra Five:Throat, Visuddha, Vissudha, Vishuddhi, or Vishuddha (purification) Chakra. This is the communications and sympathetic vibrations chakra. Its goals are clear communication, creativity, and resonance. Its location is the throat.

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