Apanasana (Wind-release Pose)
How to do it
Start lying on your back. Bend your knees one at a time and place your hands on your knees. Keep your arms extended.
Exhale: Gradually contract your abdomen and pull your thighs toward your chest.
Inhale: Move your thighs away, straightening the arms.
Repeat the movement for several breaths.
TRICK: DO NOT PULL much with your hands. Use your abdomen to initiate the omvement and use your arms to complete it.
Apanasana: No hands is very useful when you teach new students how to do the pose. Many newbies tend to use their arms a lot and tense the neck, so asking them to use their abdomen only helps to shift their thinking and view the pose differently. Also works works to strengthen the abdominal muscles.
Apanasana: 3 stages is very useful for diagnostic purposes (when you don’t know how much pain the client has in the hips or lower back). It also helps loosen up the lower back when it’s really tight.
Apanasana: Pelvis lift is one of the best moves to target lower abs, it’s useful to include it when you do any sort of core work. The trick is not to tense the neck and upper body and make sure that the knees lift up, instead of moving in.
Apanasana: One knee is really useful for diagnostic purposes – it lets you compare the right and left hip (in terms of sensations, mobility and trajectory of movement). It also works great for students who have lower back pain or hip discomfort.
Apanasana: Knee hug is a great way to warm up your hip flexors and stretch your back and glutes one side at a time. It is even more effective when followed by Apanasana: Toe tap.
Apanasana: Toe tap is excellent for releasing tension in the hip flexors. Be sure to maintain mild abdominal contraction (“inner corset”) through the entire movement. Do your best to keep the trajectory of movement consistent and do as many taps as you wish before you extend the leg fully.
Apanasana: Knee circles is great for loosening up the hips and gently stretching the lower back. You can circle your legs outward a few times and then reverse and circle them inward – whatever feels good.
One leg up
Apanasana: One leg up is great for alternating back stretching with hamstring stretching on each side. It is useful for testing the range of motion in the knee, loosening it up and preparing for hamstring work later on.
Both legs up
Apanasana: Both legs up stretches the hamstrings of both legs. It is also useful for increasing the range of motion in the knees and for stretching your calves (if you stretch up through the heels). Since you extend both legs, there is a stronger pull on your lower back, so make sure that your back is ready for it.
Apanasana + Dvipada Pitham Combo
Apanasana + Dvipada Pitham Combo works great if you want to warm up the hips and lower back. It alternately stretches and contracts the hip flexors, glutes and lower back musculature.
Apanasana + Urdhva Prasarita Padasana Combo
Apanasana+Urdhva Prasarita Padasana is a simple move that’s very effective for stretching the hamstrings and warming up the knees and hips. You can embellish it with some feet movements to stretch your calves and shins, too.