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Crocodile Pose (makarasana)

Relaxation and restorative posture that relieves stress and tension.
 

Crocodile Pose (or makarasana) is a passive back bend that is useful for relieving stress and tension in your body. This pose also helps to regulate your blood pressure, improve digestion and relax your body for sleep. You should feel calm and rejuvenated after performing Crocodile Pose.
 
Since this pose massages the uterus, women can use the pose to relieve severe menstrual cramps. You can also use this pose to help alleviate pain in your neck and jaw.
 
Crocodile Pose is a good alternative to Relaxation Pose, especially if you find it difficult to relax while lying on your back. You may want to perform this pose at the beginning or end of your practice, or between more intense back bends, such as Cobra Pose and Bow Pose.
 
Remember to breathe deeply in this pose to help release tension in your entire body, especially your lower back. As you inhale, feel your back gently rise and expand. As you exhale, feel your back softly release toward the floor.
 
Steps:
Lie face down with your legs extended behind you a comfortable distance apart.
(The top of your feet should be resting on the floor and your toes should be pointing outward.)
Cross your arms in front of your head and rest the palm of each hand on the opposite elbow.
Draw your elbows toward your body slightly to raise your shoulders and upper chest slightly off the floor.
Bow your head and rest your forehead on your forearms.
(Make sure your neck and shoulders remain relaxed.)
Close your eyes and let your entire body relax into the floor.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
(Breathe deeply and notice how your stomach presses into the floor with each inhalation.)
 
Modification 1:
You can use a prop to make Crocodile Pose easier on your shoulders and neck. This modification also lets you breathe through your nose more easily. Rest your chest on a prop, such as a thin cushion, folded blanket or towel, while you perform the pose. Your chin should hang over the edge of the prop.
 
Modification 2:
You can perform a more restful variation of Crocodile Pose. Lie face down with your arms resting at your sides, palms up. Turn your head to the right and rest your cheek on the floor. After holding the pose, turn your head to the left and rest your other cheek on the floor for the same amount of time.
 
My shoulders are uncomfortable in this pose. What can I do?
You can place your arms in a position that is more relaxing for your shoulders. Rest your arms on the floor above your head with your elbows bent so your forearms form a comfortable angle. Place one hand on top of the other and then gently rest your chin or forehead on the floor.
 
Is there another way to vary Crocodile Pose?
Yes. Instead of crossing your arms in this pose, bend your elbows and place one hand on top of the other to make a pillow for your head. Then turn your head and rest one cheek on your hands as you hold the pose. Then turn your head, rest your other cheek on your hands and hold the pose. You may find this position more comfortable than resting your forehead on your forearms.
 
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