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After the deep backbend of Camel Pose, we move the spine into the deep forward compression of Rabbit Pose. Both of these postures are done near the end of class, when you have spent more than an hour opening your body up so that you can move safely and (relatively) comfortably.

Move into Rabbit slowly, with careful attention to alignment, and enjoy the stretch, which you’ll feel first in your neck and shoulders, and eventually all the way down to your tailbone.

Tips From the Podium:

The grip is key in this posture, which is why we use a towel between our sweaty hands and feet.

Reach around and grab your heels.

Tuck your chin all the way down to your chest

Exhale as you slowly, slowly round down, pulling your abdominal muscles in tight, and pulling on your heels as soon as you can get a good grip.

Curl in so tight that your forehead touches your knees and the top of your head touches the floor.

When you touch your forehead to your knees, you might find it challenging to breathe as fully and calmly as you’d like. Much like in Standing Forehead to Knee, the “throat choked” feeling is an important element of the posture, compressing your thyroid and parathyroid glands and allowing you to fully lengthen the back of the neck. As you spend more time in the posture, you will learn to breathe calmly, even in this position.

At first, it might be difficult to get your forehead to your knees. Every class, pull on your heels, contract your abdominal muscles, and over time, you’ll get closer and closer. (Also, work the “forehead to your knees” aspect of your sit-ups every time!)

Once the top of your head is on the floor, the grip becomes even more important. Pull on your heels, roll forward, and lift the hips up.

It takes time to get there, but your goal is to get your thighs perpendicular to the floor.

If there is a gap between your forehead and knees, you can slowly, carefully move only your knees (never your head!) to shorten the space.

Use your arm strength! You should be gripping your heels with so much strength that your hands will be tired after the posture. Straighten your arms and roll forward more.

Only about 25% of your weight is on your head. The rest of your weight is held by the tension between your upper extremities and your heels.  If you feel that your hands are slipping, please lower your hips and decrease the tension of your pull. You can roll forward again once you have a firm grip on your heels. 

It is normal to feel some therapeutic discomfort in your neck this posture. As your neck and spine become more flexible and you can roll forward more, you’ll feel a stretch all the way down your spine to your tailbone.

Come out of the posture the opposite of the way you went in, maintaining a tight grip on your heels and compression of your abdominal muscles until you raise your chin from your chest and see yourself in the front mirror. Work your rabbit, and soon you’ll crave the specific way that it releases tension in your neck and shoulders.

Benefits:

  • Compresses front side of the body
  • Creates maximum extension of the spine.
  • Increases mobility and elasticity of spine and back muscles
  • Stimulates the nervous, immune, and digestive systems
  • Compresses thyroid and parathyroid glands
  • Relieves tension in neck, shoulders, and back muscles

–Ellen Olson-Brown, The Hot Yoga Factory Chelmsford

 

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