There are myriads of different asanas. Many are well known and widely practiced, yet a vast number of excellent asanas remain almost unknown. In a series of articles starting this month, we plan to introduce you to those asanas which have until now remained untaught and unpublished. Many of the asanas are prescribed for specific ailments. Yoga teachers should therefore take careful note of them in order to teach their students.
The Sanskrit word griva means 'neck', chakra means 'circle' or 'rotation' and bhujanga means 'cobra'. This asana can be translated as the 'neck rotating cobra pose'.
This asana is highly recommended for people suffering from pain in the neck, back or head, and for removing general stiffness in the spine.
There are two alternative starting positions:
1. Ardha bhujangasana for beginners
The head should be bent backwards and the whole body relaxed. Let both forearms rest on the ground with the palms facing downwards.
2. Bhujangasana for those who have a flexible spine. Bend the head backwards, keeping the arms straight.
Relax the whole back and legs.
The hands can point forward (see diagram) or backwards.
The feet can be flat (fig.2) or with the bottom of the toes on the floor (fig.3).
Do ardha bhujangasana or bhujangasana, keeping the eyes open.
Relax the whole body, especially the back. Turn your head to the right side, look over your shoulder and gaze at the left heel.
Rotate your head so that your chin presses against your chest.
Gaze along the front of your chest towards the navel. Then rotate your head to the left side, look over your shoulder and gaze at the right heel.
Rotate your head backwards and gaze up towards the ceiling.
This is one round; do five to ten rounds. Then rotate the head in the opposite direction in the same manner; do five or ten rounds.
If you have time you can repeat the practice by rotating the head again anti-clockwise and then clockwise.
Breathe normally throughout the practice
Be aware of the rotation of the head and the focus of your gaze.
Griva chakra bhujangasana can be practiced for as long as you wish providing there is no strain of the back. It should be done on an empty stomach, never immediately after meals.
While the spine is bent backwards there is a simultaneous rotation of the head. This gives a profound massage to the nerves and organs of the throat and neck, and loosens up the associated joints. The neck is the main nerve 'highway' between the brain and the rest of the body. Therefore this practice helps to bring efficiency and health to the whole body.
If you fix your attention on the neck rotation you will automatically forget the spine. The muscles will therefore relax completely and you will find that spinal flexion will be greater than normal. This will apply a wonderful massage to the abdominal organs, heart, lungs and so forth, helping to improve their functional efficiency.
Practice griva chakra bhujangasana if you have a head, neck or backache, or if you feel spinal stiffness or tension.