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Health & Fitness

YOGA

Shashankasana(shuh-shank-ahs-ah-na), or the pose of the moon, and its many variations are some of the many yogic poses that can be harnessed by anyone to achieve various mental and physical benefits. The poses discussed in this article are some of the easiest poses to practice physically, and therefore can be done by virtually anyone. In this article, some of the benefits and meditations that are related with this pose will be discussed.

Mental Benefits of Shashankasana

In Shashankasana, the head is bent downwards, allowing better circulation towards the brain. This has numerous benefits, such as improved concentration and memory. It is also a rejuvenating, refreshing, and relaxing pose. This is perhaps the most useful mental benefit, as everyone suffers from stress and mental exhaustion at some point, and this will help you combat it.


Meditating in Shashankasana

Shashankasana is a very good pose to meditate in as it is relaxing and comfortable to remain in for long periods of time. Meditation is a way to take a step back from life, and look at your problems in a more relaxed state. It is easier to think clearly and find a deeper meaning in things when we are meditating. When you are doing this either concentrate on your breath, flowing in and out of your body, or concentrate on whatever good you can find in your day or life. This achieves a positive state of mind that will help you after you have come out of you meditation. Also, when you are one with your breath, will feel calm and peaceful like the gentle flow of your inhalation and exhalation. If you find any disturbing thoughts, do not block them out, because they will only continue to disturb you. Instead try and find a solution and iron out all of the wrinkles. Another way that you can meditate in Shashankasana is by concentrating on the physical benefits that you wish to achieve through doing this pose. This will help magnify these benefits which will be discussed in the following paragraph.


Physical Benefits of Shashankasana

There are numerous physical benefits that are a result of practicing Shashankasana. Some require daily practice, while others are instantaneous benefits. For example, headaches and sinus congestion almost immediately go away after one stays in this pose for a few minutes. Consistent practice of this pose has other benefits. The increased circulation that comes when you practice this pose helps the heart. But, most of the physical benefits are related to the spinal cord. Shashankasana alleviates back pain, neck pain, and massages the sciatic nerve. Finally, it results in alleviating abdominal ailments when it is practiced with proper breathing. If you inhale and exhale as indicated in the technique section later on in the article you can get rid of stomach ulcers and indigestion problems. Because it also massages the pancreas, it is useful in prevention and cure of diabetes.


Variations of Shashankasana

The three variations of Shashankasana are also useful, as they can be practiced to achieve specific benefits. The first one is the "slide-down" variation, in which you literally slide your arms down after assuming Shashankasana. This depresses the spine and is useful in alleviating back pain. The next variation, the turtle pose, is extremely good in alleviating neck pain, as you essentially curl up and thereby stretch your neck. The final variation is pranamasana. In this you rest the middle of your head on the ground, putting pressure on your head. This is effective in achieving the mental benefits of Shashankasana, as it improves concentration, memory, and creates a total mental relaxation. However, perhaps the most important benefit of this pose is that it is an extremely effective way of clearing sinus congestion in a matter of minutes.


When you should practice Shashankasana

Shashankasana is a relaxing and rejuvenating pose, and therefore can be used when you are extremely weary or tired. After a hard day's work, it is often useful to wind down with this pose. It can also be used immediately after you wake up and get ready, as it gives you the energy to flow through another day. If you are able to relax in the morning with Shashankasana, you will glide through the day harmoniously.


Technique

  1. For Shashankasana



  2. For the "Slide-Down" variation



  3. For the "Turtle Pose" variation



  4. For the Pranamasana variation



To conclude, the Shashankasana and its variations are physically simple poses that offer quick relaxation, and are easy to meditate in. They also can be used to achieve various physical benefits, especially related to the spinal cord, through consistent practice of these poses using proper technique as mentioned above.


Courtesy: Vasanthi Bhat -Teaches Yoga in San Jose Bay Area.
She is the author of the book "The Power of Conscious Breathing in Hatha Yoga".
She has also produced a series of excellent YOGA Videos for all ages.



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