Stage 1: raising the legs

Place a folded blanket on the ground. Lie flat on your back with both legs straight and together. Straighten your arms and place them beside the body, palms downwards. For a few seconds completely relax the whole body. During the next movement, raising the body, the breath can be retained inside or outside; that is, you can either breathe in deeply and raise the body or breathe out deeply. It does not matter, but you should hold the breath. Slowly raise your legs by contracting and utilizing the abdominal muscles. The movement should be gradual and with control; it should take at least 10 seconds for the legs to reach the vertical. Keep the legs straight and together. If possible try to raise the legs using only the abdominal muscles for this action will help to strengthen these muscles. If this is impossible, however, you can help to raise your legs by pressing the arms against the ground. At the end of the movement, the buttocks and back should be on the ground with the legs pointing directly upwards. Remain in this position for a short time.

Stage 2: taking the final pose

In this stage the arms and hands should take an active part in assuming the final position. Elevate the legs further off the ground by pressing the hands and arms against the ground and contracting the abdominal muscles. Raise the buttocks and legs slowly; don’t jerk or fling. Keep your legs and feet together throughout the movement. Eventually your back should be almost vertical, with the body supported by the two arms and hands, the nape of the neck, back of the head and the shoulders. Transfer the pressure of the arms to the elbows and upper arms. Then fold the forearms upwards, placing the hands on the back and side of the chest. Gently push the chest forwards so that it firmly presses against the chin. Straighten your legs so that they are vertical. This is the final pose. The body should be supported as much as possible by the shoulders, nape of the neck and back of the head. The purpose of the arms is mainly to provide stability and to check the body if there is any tendency to overbalance. Close the eyes. Try to relax the whole body. Breathe deeply and slowly. Be aware of the breathing.

Stage 3: returning to the starting position

Stay in the final position for a comfortable length of time. Then fold the straight legs over the head so that the feet are above and behind the back of the head. Slowly release the position of the hands behind the chest and place the arms flat on the floor. Slowly lower the buttocks to the floor. Then gradually rotate the straight legs over the top of the head and lower them to the ground; again try not to use the assistance of the arms unless it is necessary. Completely relax the body when it is once again flat on the ground.

Then practise the counterpose.

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