5 key steps to master rabbit pose
Even though Rabbit Pose is a simple posture, and good and safe for beginners, it can be very challenging for many people.
Tightness in neck, shoulders and lower back; tight hamstrings; or bigger chest and belly, can all make this a very daunting position. Add to that the tremendous frontside compression, which can make it hard to breathe.
This posture has so many benefits, that it is certainly worthwhile to work through these challenges.
Rabbit Pose is known to strengthen the back muscles and provide relief from mental troubles. It not only opens the spine deeply, helping to stretch and stimulate the inter-vertebral disks, but also helps to maintain the spongy nature of the disks which helps them absorb shock from daily movement to prevent back pain. Simultaneously there is a lot of compression on the frontside of the body. This is said to stimulate the thyroid gland, the digestive system and metabolism.
It’s easier than most inversions because you’re not completely upside down and there is very little weight on the head. You can however receive many of the same benefits – energization and mental clarity to name a few – because your head is below your heart.
No matter where you’re starting from, remember to focus on breathing during the entire yoga pose to gain maximum benefits. It is most appropriate and accessible to focus more on the exhales than on inhaling.
Because of the compression on throat and abdomen, it’s best to keep the lungs as empty as possible and only lightly inhale, just enough to keep the breath flowing. Try to access the back and lower lobes of the lungs.
1. Always start with the right grip in the pose.
The thumbs should be included with the rest of the fingers, thumbs on the outside, fingers on the inside. The full palm of the hand should be right over the heel. Keep the grip super strong throughout the entire posture. Your grip is the counterbalance for the whole rest of your body going/rolling forward. It’s the grip and pull that creates the dynamic tension to stretch the spine.
2. Roll forward until forehead is close to knees and lift the hips without sacrificing the grip.
Move into the pose slowly and deliberately, starting at the top of the neck and working your way down — touch the chin to the chest first and, one vertebra at a time, round the spine with the exhale, making sure to suck the belly all the way in towards the spine. First you will stretch only your neck and upper spine, but as you advance in your practice you will learn how to stretch your spine from the tailbone to neck. If there is too much pressure on your head, find more strength in the arms. One way to achieve that is to grab lower on the foot, closer to the arch
3. The stronger your arms the more stretch in the back
Eventually you should pull on your heels so much that your arms straighten and your back finds maximum stretch; and the more better of compression you create to benefit the organs.
4. While pulling on the heels, lift the shoulders away from the ears, and keep stomach tight.
With so much focus on pulling, it’s easy to pull the shoulders up. This will create tension in the shoulders and neck. Instead soften and relax the shoulders and strengthen the bicep muscles. Sucking the belly in will help shifting focus from neck and upper back, to supporting the middle and lower spine more.
5. Keep feet flat and heels together.
As counter action to the pull, continuously press the top of the feet down. Try to eliminate any gap under the ankles. This can be challenging with tight ankle joints, but with practice this will surely improve. Also work to eventually have the heels together, so that the fingers of both hands will be touching between the feet. This movement will help to open the shoulders more and strengthen your inner thighs. The more you will able to keep the feet down and together, the easier it will be to lift the hips more and thus create more back stretch and forward compression. And as we know now, that’s what this pose is all about!