The Yoga Tutor

Hathenas For Adham Pranayama

[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 271 ]

The first of the four sets of hathenas consists of the following four practices:
  1. Sapurna Ushthra Asana
  2. Ushthra Asana Paravritti
  3. Purna Ushthra Asana
  4. Sapurna Shasha Asana

Sapurna Ushthra Asana - The incomplete camel pose

Note: All of the kriyas in the entire hathena set should be performed slowly, with deep breathing. Use a 6-count for both the inhalation and exhalation used in conjunction with each specific movement.
  • Begin in vajra asana.
  • On an incoming breath rise off the heels onto the knees and, once fully upright, slowly bend backwards from the lower back, pushing the hips forward. The entire movement should be performed approximately to a 6-count.
Note: Gently drop the head and shoulders back and let the arms dangle behind. Extend the spine as far as you comfortably can.

Note: Feel how the air flows mainly into the inferior lobes of the lungs and how there is a pressure put onto the diaphragm at the base of the ribcage.
  • Pause for a brief moment, suspending the breath (kumbhaka), then exhale, slowly come forward again into the upright kneeling position and sit back down into vajra asana. (again, breathing and moving to a 6-count)
  • Repeat this 3 times.
Note: Do not close your eyes at any point of the practice. If sudden dizziness or light-headedness arises, immediately sit back down into vajra asana and relax your breath. You may relax into the shashanga asana until you feel the sensation subside, then continue with your practice with awareness and caution if you are able.

Note: If this kriya is difficult in the beginning, you can perform a modified variation by limiting your backbend, only coming up onto the knees on the in-breath and then sitting down on the out-breath.

Ushthra Asana Paravritti - the camel pose variation

  • Again, begin in vajra asana.
  • Bring the hands behind you and place the palms down onto the floor with the fingers pointing forward and their tips touching the toes.
  • Relax the head backward as you exhale.
  • Inhale, raise the buttocks and lift the hips, abdomen and chest up high, extending into a supported backbend (to a 6-count).
  • Pause for a brief moment, then slowly exhale and lower the buttocks back down to the heels (to a 6 count).
  • Repeat this 3 times.
Note: Do not return fully upright to the vajra asana position between each repetition. Rather, repeat the lifting of the buttocks three times first, then, after the final repetition, slowly return to vajra asana.

Purna Ushthra Asana - the complete camel pose

  • To perform the full camel pose, again begin in vajra asana.
  • Using a 6-count, inhale and raise the buttocks off the heels (as in sapurna ushthra asana) and extend the spine into a full backbend, cupping the hands on top of the heels and holding this position.
Note: Keep the hips and thighs forward, push the chest outward, pull the shoulders back and drop the head backwards.
  • Hold this position and perform 6 rounds of deep breathing, sending the breath with intention deep down into the lower region of the lungs.
  • As in sapurna ushthra asana, exhale and slowly return to vajra asana.
  • Repeat 3 times.

Sapurna Shasha Asana - incomplete rabbit pose

  • From vajra asana, bend forward and place the elbows on the floor just beyond the knees.
  • Extend the forearms straight forward along the floor and place the palms face down.
  • Lift the chin and draw the head and shoulders backwards.
  • Breathe deeply through the nostrils, forcing the air down into the lower lungs (abdominal area).
  • Perform 3 to 6 rounds of this breathing (inhaling and exhaling to a 6-count), then relax the head and neck downward and breathe lightly for a few rounds.

The contents of this web page are intended for informational purposes only. One should not engage in any yoga practices based solely upon the directions given on this web page or any other page of this web site. Anyone atempting to perform any of the yoga exercises introduced on this website assumes full responsibility and does so at their own risk.
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.

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