Crocodile Pose (Makarasana): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Crocodile Pose (Makarasana) - Fitzabout
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Updated: March 16, 2023

Crocodile pose, also known as Makarasana, is a beginner restorative or healing posture that relaxes the whole body, and is an effective asana, while transitioning between poses that work to strengthen the back.

The Crocodile Pose (Makarasana) relaxes the nervous system, and is practiced at the end of a yoga session. This yoga pose cools down the body, giving you the needed rest and a great way to relieve stress.

The deeper the stretch, the lower the posture is felt in the back. Individuals who have low back pain, especially low back pain, may find some relief.

Information

Known as:Makarasana, Crocodile Pose, Nakarasana
Sanskrit name:मकरासन
IAST:Makarāsana
Pronunciation:MAH-kuhr-AWS-ah-nuh
Level:Beginner
Type:Restorative pose, Relaxation pose
Total time:30 to 60 seconds
Drishti:Tri-doshic effect
Chakra:Sahasrara Chakra, Swadisthana Chakra, Muladhara Chakra
Focus:Spine, shoulders, chest
Indications:Waist pain, slipped disc, back stiffness, lung, PMS, blood circulation, reproductive organs, menstrual cycle, blood pressure
Preparatory poses:Bhujangasana (Cobra pose), Gomukhasana (Cow face pose), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose), Supta virasana (Reclining hero pose), Urdhva mukha svanasana (Upward facing dog pose)
Follow-up poses:Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), Ustrasana (Camel pose), Bharadwajasana (Sitting Twist Pose), Salmba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose)
Contraindications:Wrist, lower back injury, Second or third trimesters of pregnancy

Meaning + Mythology

Makarasana derived from the Sanskrit name that made from two words — Makara + Asana:

  1. Makara” = “crocodile”
  2. Asana” = “pose or posture”
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Makara is usually translated to Crocodile, but it is also thought to be a sea creature, like a shark or dolphin, and may be a purely mythical animal.

In Hindu mythology, it was the animal vehicle of the sea-god Varuna and the river-goddess Ganga.

A different myth in the Ramayana tells how Hanuman, in search of a drink from a lake, is caught by a Crocodile, dragged down and swallowed. Hanuman changes shape to be so big that the crocodile explodes, leaving behind a beautiful nymph named Dhyanmalini, who reveals that she was cursed to become a demon.

In Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar notes that the Gheranda Samhita describes the pose as lying “outstretched” with both legs; The head is held in the arms, and the pose is said to “increase body heat”. Iyengar describes it as a variation of the Locust Pose and depicts it as such, with the head and legs energetically raised, the fingers intertwined at the back of the head, and the elbows raised above the floor.

Although Crocodile Pose (Makarasana) is often used as a relaxation posture, an alternative to supine Corpse Pose, and both the head and feet are rested on the floor. It as “slightly raised” and “one of the best pose for working with diaphragmatic breathing.”

Benefits of Crocodile Pose (Makarasana)

The physical and mental benefits are listed below:

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Stimulates the sacrum, improves the prana flow through the entire spine, removing all blockages
    • It stimulates the abdominal organs and Improves digestion, cure problems related to constipation
    • improve in the functioning of the spleen, urinary bladder, liver, pancreas, and intestines
    • Helping in giving the circulatory and the respiratory system to relax
    • Relaxes the muscular system, it gives a sense of control over the body and mind.
    • Brings calmness with the slowing of the heart pumping
    • Increases the circulation of blood, the entire spine brings in fresh blood, improving the circulation throughout the body
    • Keep the spine free from all physical ailments
    • Reduces blood pressure, activate the diaphragm muscle
    • Cure for lower back stiffness
    • Reducing the spasm
    • Reduces symptoms related to PMS
    • Massages the reproductive organs
    • Reduce the symptoms related to the menstrual cycle
  2. Mental Benefits:
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Instructions to Crocodile Pose (Makarasana)

  • Lie down on your stomach on the floor.
  • Bend the hands, keeping the tip of the elbows on the mat at shoulder distance.
  • Keep the fingers facing upwards. Keeping your neck straight and looking forward, raise your shoulders and head.
  • Place the chin in the palms.
  • The legs are stretch out, toes pointed out. Breathe normally and slowly to relax the muscles.
  • To challenge yourself to a Raised Crocodile, the hands can remain under the chin or you can place them behind the neck and with the inhale raise the legs and upper body.
  • Hold the pose until you feel completely relaxed.
  • To release, gently remove palms from chin, bring shoulders and head down and roll.

Common mistakes

Following are four common mistakes that a person can make in Crocodile Pose (Makarasana). These mistakes can reduce the effectiveness of the pose and even cause discomfort or injury.

  1. Elevating the head too high: As you raise your head and shoulders off the floor, take care not to do so excessively. You risk straining your neck and shoulders if you raise your head excessively. Instead, raise your head and shoulders a few inches off the floor while maintaining a neutral neck.
  2. Rounding the shoulders: As you rest your chin on your palms, be careful not to round your shoulders forward. Rounding the shoulders can create tension in the neck and upper back. Instead, keep your shoulders relaxed and roll back.
  3. Hold the breath: Tension is caused by your body when you hold your breath. The entire asana should be performed with deep, steady breathing. You can relax and calm down using this.
  4. Extending the legs and back: If you choose to do the raised crocodile variation, be careful not to overextend your legs and back. Excessive stretching can put pressure on your lower back and hips. Instead, lift your legs and upper body only as high as is comfortable, and maintain good alignment in your spine.
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Precautions and contraindications

Crocodile Pose (Makarasana) is great for muscle recovery and relaxation but there are some precautions and contraindications to be kept in mind while doing the exercise, they are explained below:

Abdominal disorders

Severe abdominal disorders may bring more discomfort from the practice of this pose as the abdomen is pushed towards the floor while inhaling, causing excessive contraction of the muscles.

High blood pressure

For the beginner yoga practitioner and suffering from high blood pressure, it can be difficult to practice Crocodile Pose (Makarasana), as breathing plays an important role in this pose. If breathing is not smooth, pressure builds up, which puts more pressure on the arteries.

Pregnant women

The pressure on the abdomen may not be safe and hence women who are deep in their pregnancy should avoid this pose.

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