Kashtha Takshanasana (chopping wood)
Sit in the squatting position with the feet flat on the floor one and a half feet apart.
The knees should be fully bent and separated.
Clasp the fingers of both hands together and place them on the floor between the feet. Straighten the arms and keep them straight throughout the practice.
The elbows should be inside the knees.
The eyes should remain open.
Imagine the action of chopping wood. Raise the arms as high as possible above and behind the head, stretching the spine upward. Look up towards the hands.
Make a downward stroke with the arms, as if chopping wood. Expel the breath making a ‘Ha!’ sound to remove all the air from the lungs. The hands should return to the floor in between the feet and the head is facing forward.
This is one round.
Practice 5 to 10 rounds.
Breathing: Inhale while raising the arms.
Exhale while lowering the arms.
Awareness: On the breath, movement and stretch of the shoulder and upper back muscles.
Benefits: This asana loosens up the pelvic girdle and tones the pelvic muscles. It is useful for women preparing for childbearing and may be practised during the first three months of pregnancy.
It also has a special effect on the usually inaccessible muscles of the back between the shoulder blades, as well as the shoulder joints and upper back muscles.
Practice note: Those people who find the squatting pose too difficult should practise in the standing position. The benefits, however, will be less.