Knees to chest, or Apanasana in Sanskrit, took patience for me to realize the benefits. As an athlete turned Yogi, I wanted to feel strength being built in each posture. Warrior 1, Warrior 2 … Warrior YES! It wasn’t until I connected with my breath that I started to feel my erector spinae (long group of muscles traveling down our back) lengthen. In my body, as with most of us in Western society, as we lean forward at a desk, in a car or holding a cell phone, we strengthen our back but become deficient in our core. Knees to chest offers us an opportunity to take our tight back muscles and release tension. This allows for the removal of chronic pain and the chance for us to build a more helpful core.
Start with a sitting position on the ground with your feet flat, spaced at a distance greater than your hips-width. While inhaling, bring your arms forward. While exhaling, let your torso fall slowly to the ground and lie flat on your back.
Now increase the length of your torso by extending your arms further. After that, pull in your knees close to the chest and clasp them with your extended hands. You should look as if you are hugging your knees. Your shoulder blades should be relaxed and collarbones should be spread wide.
Now rock your body from one side to other as your relax your lower back. You should insert your chin in between your knees in order to protect your posterior neck. You may also use a blanket beneath your head if you experience a bit too much discomfort during the rocking portion of the pose.
One modification that can be helpful for those of us with sore knees is to place the hands behind the thigh instead of on the front of the knee. I usually cue this in my classes as it is a safer approach.
Health Benefits (http://www.lovemyyoga.com/knee-to-chest-pose.html)
- Eliminates painful lower back.
- Helps alleviate gastro-intestinal pain and the physical pain associated with menstruation.
- Relieves constipation.
- Reduces tension in the lower back and aids in removing the sciatic nerve pain.
- Helps resolve Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).