This pose may look simple, yet it has profound depth. I remember how surprised I was the first few times I practiced it and how I absolutely hated it! Why should my body and mind hate this simple pose so much? But I did. I’m not saying you will. Perhaps you will have something more serene and positive. I love the pose now. I always find it interesting to observe how my practice grows and shifts, to see what brings me comfort and what irritates me. Some poses I start out hating and end up loving. Others I used to practice with ease and now my body struggles. This one is a juicy restorative pose that helps us slow down.
The Makara is a large sea animal, some say its a crocodile, others say a shark, a dolphin or even plesiosaurs. It is the vehicle of Varuna, the god of the ocean. The makara can represent the fierce energy of desire and emotions that can drive us crazy at times. When properly directed it can carry us through life with joy and connect us to the universal energies that surround and support us.
This pose can help us to train the sea monster within by diving deep into this restorative posture. It isn’t physically difficult to practice. Instead, it helps us to turn our awareness within and focus on the breath. By lying prone on the abdomen and with our arms lifting up towards the head it isolates the diaphragm and helps to relieve tension stored in the lower back and mid-torso where the diaphragm attaches. Poor postural and breathing habits as well as weak and tight muscles along the spine and pelvis affect these tension prone areas.
To practice this pose begin by lying down on the floor face down. Extend the legs and spread the feet apart about as wide as the shoulders and turn the toes out, heels in. Bring the thumbs and index fingers to touch in a diamond shape and rest the forehead in the open space between the fingers. Take a deep breath in and with the exhale let something go. Relax the shoulders, jaw, neck, lower back, hips, ankles.
Feel each breath consciously draw in and feel a sense of surrender with each exhale. What you surrender is up to you. It may be the feeling like you need to get up and do something productive instead of practicing this silly pose. If you are going through something that has brought up any kind of emotion, lay down and breathe into what is present and allow the emotions to move through you. Notice where your attention goes and settle into what comes up to the surface.
Let the breath help you relax and unwind. There is nothing you need to hold onto in this pose. Allow it to restore a sense of calm to your body, mind and spirit. Let it rejuvenate you and bring you back to your inner knowing.
A few simple variations for this pose can include changing the hand and arm position. Try crossing the forearms and resting your head on them. This will lift the chest up a little higher. You can also reach the hands to opposite shoulders and rest the head in the crook of the elbows. If you’d like a little support in this pose to help the shoulders relax, roll up a blanket and place it at the top of the chest under the armpits. Also, if the feet aren’t comfortable turned out, simply turn the toes in and rest the heels out. Finding a place of comfort for the body facilitates the process of relaxation. This isn’t a pose we need to suffer through. Turing our awareness within helps us to look at the inner light of loving kindness and direct it towards ourselves.
This is a nice posture to practice 1-2 times a day before meals or on a relatively empty stomach for 10 minutes at a time. Observe the effects and allow it to subtly heal and restore the body and breath.
Enjoy the practice! Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below.
Founder of Maitri Yoga