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Sphinx and Seal Pose- Salamba Bhujangasana

Common Name(s)Sphinx and Seal Pose in English, Salamba Bhujangasana or Niravalasana in Sanskrit
MeridiansUrinary Bladder, Kidney, Stomach, Spleen
ChakrasSacral Chakra (Swadisthana Chakra) , Root Chakra (Muladhara Chakra)
ElementsWater , Earth

The Sphinx Asana is called Salamba Bhujangasana or Niravalasana and its variant, Seal Asana, is called Bhujangasana in Sanskrit or Cobra Pose in English. The only difference between the two poses is that in Seal pose there is a spread of arms and elbows do not touch the floor whereas in Sphinx pose there is no spread of the arms and the elbows touch the floor. The two poses activate the Sacral and the Root Chakras of the body and treat the Pitta and Kapha doshas of the body. The Water and Earth elements of the body are also regulated and balanced by this pose.

The poses activate the Urinary bladder, Kidney, Stomach and Spleen meridians of the body. It helps exercise the lower back and the neck muscles and joints.

Advantages of Sphinx and Seal Pose

1/4. Stimulates the sacral lumbar arch with deep compression.

2/4. It is advantageous for those with herniated or bulging disks due to its restorative ability.

3/4. Can rejuvenate the thyroid by dropping the neck back.

4/4. Stretch your abdomen fully with the full Seal posture.

Contradindications and Precautions

It is suggested to take due precautions while doing these yoga poses. These contraindications and precautions are…

1/4. You suffer from a rigid sacrum or back problems.

2/4. You experience acute pain.

3/4. You suffer from headache.

4/4. You are pregnant. Expecting women should avoid pressing their stomach hard to the floor. In case you really must try it then place bolsters under your forearms and pelvis.

How to start

1/2. Lie flat on your stomach and grasp each elbow with your other hand and shift them till they are shoulder level and with its support push yourself up.

2/2. In case you feel a tinge of pain or discomfort in your lower back then move the elbows forward and place the chest nearer to the floor. You can also try the sphinx position by placing your palms on the floor.

Other available alternatives

Simple sphinx can be achieved by laying on your ribs; to avoid compression of the lower back slide away your elbows. Resting on your tummy can also give good result.

To raise the chest use pillows or cushions under the elbows. This can be used to intensify the compression. The cushion can also be placed under the armpits

For intense pose use the Seal pose wherein keep your arms straight and locked. Also allow the arms to slide outwards, this also reduces the intensity. If your elbows are not under the shoulders the lower back feels more pressure and compression.

Imagine the position of a seal. Flat on its tummy and arms stretched to the sides. This is also a preferred method by experts.

For pressure in the sacrum, bend your knees. Feel the pressure on the lower back intensify by spreading your legs far. Stick the legs closer to even out the pressure along the spine or discharge the sacrum.

If discomfort is felt in the lower back or the pelvic, a cushion can be placed there or under the thighs. This is helpful for expecting women.

Relaxing the cervical spine and arching the neck is done by lifting the chin and dropping the head back.

Flexible people can always try out these poses with the leg in lotus posture.

Ending the Pose

To end this pose, bring your chest to the floor slowly and rest your cheek on the fists. Slide one knee up to relax the lower back and decompress the pressure, keep the foot on the floor.

Counter pose for Sphinx and Seal

A gentle and slow forward pose with head on the fist called the Child’s pose.

Anatomy affected

1/3. Affects the organs connected to sacrum and the lower back: kidneys and the urinary bladder.

2/3. The compressing pose energises the adrenal glands as well as the kidneys.

3/3. Spleen and stomach.

Standard hold times

1/2. Hold for a maximum of 5 minutes.

2/2. Repetition is the key for Seal pose. Start with a 1 minute hold, relax and the start over.

Alternate Yang asanas

Cobra pose.

Points to ponder

1/3. For pregnant women Seal is good option.

2/3. Can be done even while watching TV.

3/3. Sphinx can be done before the Saddle pose as the arms are bent and does not strain the back as much. If the arms are straight then the backbend is deeper and this can be performed+ after a Saddle.

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