Serpent Pose may look  a bit scary at first, but once you get yourself there, it is actually a nice, restful position. So restful in fact, that the position is called after Ananta, the serpent whose coils formed the couch where the Hindu god, Vishnu would relax. For this reason, it is often called Couch Pose.

In the beginning, practice the pose against a wall as aligning the spine is crucial i.e. no banana shapes. It will also help you retain your balance for longer. Serpent Pose is fabulous for opening the pelvis and stretching the legs. People do find if tricky in the beginning but if you persevere with it, you will have amazing legs! Eventually, you can move away from the wall.  However, you need to align yourself along the edge of your mat – again, no banana-shaped spines. Also you may be able to throw away the belt and hold the big toe with your thumb and middle finger instead. But it usually takes some time. Work gently always and within your limits.

How to practice Serpent Pose:

  • Make a loop in a yoga belt or in a long scarf and tie it around your right foot.
  • Lie on your left side against a wall. Rest the back of the head, the back and the back of the left leg against the wall. Your right leg will be resting on top of your left leg. Keep the little toe of the left foot in view at all times as this will help you balance. Also keep your left leg active and sharp.
  • Bend your left elbow so that you can rest your head comfortably against your right hand. Your body should now form a straight line from the little toe of the left foot all along the left side of the body into the elbow.
  • Bend your right knee and bring it in towards the chest, supporting it with your right hand. Hold this position for a couple of breaths.
  • Inhale, exhale, and pulling on the belt/scarf, extend the right leg up towards the ceiling with the inner leg and the toes facing your head. Do not stretch the leg more than is comfortable. Keep the knee bent if you have to.
  • As you inhale, encourage the right leg to lift gently out of the hip. Exhaling, move your right foot in the direction of your head. Keep your head facing forwards and relax your arms, shoulders and the sides of your neck. Work in this way for 6 breaths.
  • Inhaling, bend the knee and bring it in towards the chest as before. Hold it there for a couple of breaths, before lowering the leg completely.
  • Change sides and repeat.

NEED HELP? If you find this pose too difficult, practice Supine Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana) until your legs become more flexible.