Niralamba Paschimottanasana (unsupported back stretching pose)
Sit with the legs outstretched and the feet together.
Bend the knees and bring them to the chest, keeping the feet flat on the floor. Place the arms outside the legs and grasp the soles of the feet.
Relax the whole body and focus on a fixed point.
Lean backwards slightly onto the coccyx, lifting the feet off the floor.
Slowly raise the feet and straighten the knees.
Balance on the buttocks.
Pulling the arms back, draw the knees towards the head.
Relax the back as much as possible in the final position.
Do not strain.
Hold the position for as long as is comfortable.
Keeping the balance, slowly bend the knees and lower the feet to the floor.
Stretch the legs forward.
Relax the whole body.
Breathing:Inhale in the sitting position.
Retain the breath in while raising and lowering the legs and while balancing, or breathe deeply and slowly if holding the pose for an extended period.
Exhale after lowering the feet.
Duration:Practise up to 3 rounds, or hold once for up to 3 minutes.
Awareness: Physical – on the stretch in the limbs, on relaxing the back muscles, and on maintaining balance by focusing on a fixed point.
Sequence: This practice may be followed by Bhujangasana or Makrasana.
Contra-indications:People suffering from slipped disc, sciatica, sacral infections, high blood pressure or heart disease should not practise this asana.
Benefits: This practice has similar benefits to Paschimottanasana.
In addition, it helps to improve the sense of balance.