Anantasana, Side-Reclining Leg Lift
The name Anantasana is made of two separate Sanskrit words ‘Anant’ and ‘Asana’. While Asana just means posture or exercise, Anant means endless, never ending and infinite. It can also mean a future event.
How to perform Anantasana
Lay down on your back in Supta Samasthiti. Check which of your nostrils is active and lie on that side with your upper arm on the floor, your elbow bent and your head supported by your hand. Take care not to lean forward or backward but leave your complete body weight on the side you are lying on.
If you are lying on your right side, bend your left knee, grab your left big toe with your left hand and stretch the leg up straight, the sole facing upwards. Now your knees are straight and you pull your foot closer towards your head.
Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute, then slowly come out of it and repeat the posture from the other side.
Benefits of Anantasana
Anantasana is a very good exercise for stretching the muscles of your back and side torso as well as the hamstrings and the muscles of the calves.
Your pelvic floor muscles and hip muscles are toned and your abs are firmed. Additionally you strengthen your armpit muscles and shoulders.
Anantasana increases flexibility in your legs and prevents issues of hernia.
In many cases, this yoga exercise can be good against back pain as well.
By lying on your left side, you stimulate your blood circulation which is beneficial for your heart and the supply of oxygen throughout your body. Through this proper blood circulation, even edema of legs and arms can be healed.
Your digestive system also has a benefit from this pose. You shift undigested food from one side of the intestines to the other. This does not mean however that you should do this yoga posture right after food. Always keep a sufficient time gap in between eating and workout.
If you suffer from light arthritis, Anantasana can help you reduce your pain. Regular practice can prevent further worsening. If you do this pose regularly, your risk of sciatica is minimalized as well.
Through the movement of your leg, the yoga pose is good for your bladder and for women beneficial for the ovaries while men have benefits for their prostate glands. The whole region is working and women experience that menstrual disorders are reduced.
Apart from the physical benefits already described, Anantasana also reduces mental stress and strain as well as its results. Stress related disorders such as fatigue can be prevented and also cured with a workout practice that includes this yoga exercise.
The first chakra is stimulated with this exercise and you thus activate the root energy.
Like nearly all balancing poses, kids especially enjoy this yoga exercise.
You can even do this yoga pose in bed. You may have problems if you have a very soft mattress but the stretching will work anyway!
Tips and Help
As a beginner it can be difficult to find your balance. As a little help, you can start this practice by doing the exercise with your back to the wall which makes it impossible to fall backwards.
Additionally you can keep your lower foot flexed. There is no need to stretch the toes far out. That would move the complete leg muscle and make you fall either forwards or backwards.
If it is difficult for you to grab your toes with your hands, use a piece of cloth, place it over the sole of your foot and grab it to pull.
When to avoid Anantasana
If you have any hip or neck pain, please consult with your doctor and Yoga teacher whether you can do this exercise.