This is one of my favorite poses as it is so simple and calming. It is also wonderfully toning for the legs, particularly the ankles and the hips. Traditionally, the Japanese sit this way when eating a meal as it aids the digestive process. If you have digestive difficulties, you could try kneeling for a few minutes after eating.

Don’t be worried if you find this pose difficult in the beginning. Many people do. After some time, the legs become more flexible and you should be able to remain in this pose for long periods. You can then use the position for breathing exercises as an alternative to sitting poses. It is also a useful position for stretching the arms and shoulders. (See Kneeling Pose + Variations). Traditionally, this position is called Thunderbolt Pose. Vajra means thunderbolt.

How to practice Kneeling Pose:

  • Kneel on your mat with your knees, legs and ankles together. Place the tops of your feet flat on the mat and check that all of your toes are lined up obediently in a straight row!
  • Grab the right buttock muscle and pull it sideways and back off the sitting bone so that the back of the thigh rests on the right heel. Repeat on left.
  • Drop the tailbone and sitting bones down towards the floor.
  • Lift the lower abdomen away from the tops of the thighs.
  • Allow the spine to lengthen upwards with the neck extending into the head. Direct the backs of the ears up towards the ceiling. (You’ll know you’ve got it right if you can balance a book on top of your head).
  • Rest your hands on the thighs and relax the shoulders and arms.
  • Hold for 6 breaths or for as long as you like. Afterwards, stretch out the legs, bounce them up and down and give the backs of the knees a bit of a rub.

NEED ASSISTANCE?

~ If you find it difficult to kneel because of stiff knees or tight hamstrings, place a cushion or folded blanket under the buttocks.

~If you can’t keep your knees together, tie a belt or a scarf around your ankles.

~ If you find it difficult to flatten out your feet, place a rolled up blanket under the ankles.

~ If you tend to hunch up your shoulders or collapse the chest, place your hands in Namaste position (see below), to help open out the chest and take the shoulders back and downwards.

STOP!

~Take care if you have knee problems. Place one folded blanket under the knees and another one under the buttocks.

~ If you have had knee surgery, ask your doctor’s advice before attempting Kneeling Pose.

Kneeling Pose + Variations

The following stretches tone the arms and shoulders.

Arm Stretches in Kneeling Pose:

  • Kneel as before.
  • Inhaling, stretch the arms overhead. Interlock the fingers and turn the palms to face the ceiling.
  • Hold for 6 breaths. Exhale, and release the arms back down again.
  • Inhaling, stretch the arms overhead again, this time with the knuckles facing the ceiling.
  • Hold for 6 breaths. Exhale, and release the arms back down again.

Namaste in Kneeling Pose:

  • Kneel as before.
  • Take the arms down to the back of the waist. Place the palms together with the fingers pointing downwards.
  • Rotate the wrists upwards until you can point the fingers up towards the ceiling.
  • Take the hands up the back as high as you can. Relax the shoulders downwards.
  • Hold for 6 breaths. Exhale, and release the arms back down again.

Head of a Cow in Kneeling Pose:

  • Kneel as before.
  • Inhaling, stretch the right arm out at shoulder height. Exhaling, take the arm down to the back of the waist.Bend the elbow and place the back of your hand in between the shoulder blades (or as high up the back as you can).
  • Inhaling, extend the left arm overhead. Exhaling, drop the left hand down the back until you can clasp the right hand. If you can’t reach the right hand, hold a belt or a scarf in both hands and keep extending the hands towards each other.
  • Hold for 6 breaths. Keep extending the left elbow up towards the ceiling and the right elbow down towards the floor.
  • Inhaling, release both arms and repeat on the opposite side. Typically, one side is easier to work with than the other.
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