Shashankasana (Hare Pose): Steps, Benefits and Contraindications

Shashankasana (Hare Pose) - SharpMuscle
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Shashankasana, also known as Hare Pose, stretches the spine, shoulders, hips and inner thighs, and it promotes deep breathing and can help reduce stress and tension. It also helps to calm the mind and promote relaxation.

Information

Known as:Shashankasana, Hare Pose, Moon Pose
Sanskrit name:शशाङ्कासन
IAST:śaśāṅkāsana
Pronunciation:Shuh-shahn-kah-suh-nuh
Type:Seated forward bends
Level:Beginner
Focus:Spine, shoulders, hips
Total time:30 – 60 seconds or more
Drishti:Tip of the nose;
Towards the floor
Chakra:Muladhara Chakra
Indications:Spine, hips, inner thighs, shoulders, neck, digestion, digestive discomfort, insomnia, fatigue, stress, anxiety, concentration, mental clarity
Counterposes:Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Balasana (Child’s Pose), Bitilasana (Cow Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Preparatory poses:Sukhasana (Easy Pose), Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose), Balasana (Child’s Pose), Marjaryasana (Cat Pose) to Bitilasana (Cow Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
Follow-up poses:Bitilasana (Cow Pose) to Marjaryasana (Cat Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend Pose), Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Contraindications:Abdominal injury, recent shoulder, or back surgery, knee problems, or slipped disc, pregnancy and menstrual cycle

Meaning

The name “Shashankasana” is Sanskrit name, which is made of two words — Shashanka + Asana:

  1. Shashanka” = “moon”
  2. Asana” = “pose” or “posture”

Therefore, the literal translation of Shashankasana is “Moon Pose” or “Hare Pose.”

The name of the asana is derived from the visual resemblance of the body’s shape in the pose to a crescent moon or the posture of a hare.

The moon symbolizes calmness, serenity, and a sense of inner stillness, which are qualities that can be cultivated through the practice of this asana. The association with the hare suggests a connection to grace, agility, and softness.

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Hence, the name “Shashankasana” captures the essence of the asana and its intention to evoke a sense of tranquility, peace, and gentle energy.

Benefits of Shashankasana (Hare Pose)

The benefits may vary from person to person, and regular practice is key to experiencing the full range of physical and mental benefits.

However, the physical and mental benefits of Shashankasana (Hare Pose) are listing below:

Physical Benefits:

  • Stretches and lengthens the spine
  • Promotes the flexibility and mobility in the vertebral column
  • Opens and stretches the hips, relieving tension and tightness in the hip area
  • Stretches the shoulders and release tension in the neck and upper back
  • Stimulates the digestive organs
  • Aids in digestion and relieving digestive discomfort
  • Promotes the relaxation and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to reduce fatigue

Mental Benefits:

  • Calms the mind and relaxes the state of mind
  • Brings the awareness to the present moment and connect with a sense of groundedness and stability
  • Improves the mind-body connection, fosters the sense of harmony and balance
  • Enhance mental clarity
  • Reduces the stress, tension, and anxiety

Shashankasana (Hare Pose) Practice Guide

Shashankasana involves a gentle forward fold while kneeling. In this asana, the practitioners sit on their heels with the knees hip-width apart and the palms resting on the thighs. From there, they exhale and fold forward, bringing the chest towards or between the knees while extending the arms in front or alongside the body.

The asana is often accompanied by deep breathing and relaxation. Hare Pose helps stretch the spine, hips, and thighs while promoting a sense of calm and grounding.

However, the step-by-step practice guides of this yoga asana are given below:

Step-by-step Instructions

  1. Assume the Vajrasana position, with your hands resting on your thighs and your spine held upright. Separate your knees, widening the distance beyond the width of your shoulders.
  2. Position your palms on the floor between your knees, taking advantage of the increased space created.
  3. On an exhalation, glide your hands along the floor and hinge your upper body forward from the level of your hips. Ensure that your hands, head, and spine are aligned in a straight line.
  4. Lower yourself until your palms and forehead touch the floor. Take gentle breaths in this position. To enhance the feeling of relaxation, you may choose to close your eyes.
  5. Inhale and gradually retract your arms using your core muscles. Return to a seated Vajrasana position, raising your arms and maintaining an upright spine.
  6. Lower your hands and resume normal breathing.
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Common Mistakes

Practice Shashankasana mindfully, paying attention to proper alignment, breathing, and listening to the body’s signals. The common mistakes of Hare Pose are explaining below:

  • Rounding the back: Some individuals tend to round their back excessively during the forward fold. This can strain the spine and restrict the benefits of the asana. It is important to maintain a long and straight spine to ensure a safe and effective stretch.
  • Collapsing the chest: Allowing the chest to collapse and shoulders to hunch forward can limit the opening of the chest and restrict breathing. It is essential to keep the chest lifted and open during the asana to maximize the stretch and maintain proper alignment.
  • Overarching the neck: Extending the neck too far forward or looking up excessively can strain the neck and compress the cervical vertebrae. It is advised to keep the neck aligned with the rest of the spine, maintaining a neutral position.
  • Putting excessive pressure on the knees: Placing excessive pressure on the knees by widening the legs too much or forcefully pressing them down can lead to discomfort or potential knee strain. It is important to find a comfortable width for the knees and avoid forcing them beyond their natural range of motion.
  • Holding the breath: Forgetting to breathe or holding the breath during the asana can hinder relaxation and prevent the body from fully releasing tension. It is crucial to maintain a steady and relaxed breath throughout the asana, allowing for deep inhalations and exhalations.

Modifications and Variations

Modifications and variations in Shashankasana can be beneficial for practitioners with specific physical limitations, injuries, or those seeking different levels of challenge or relaxation.

However, the modifications and variations of Hare Pose are explained below:

  1. Using props: Placing a folded blanket or bolster between the hips and heels can provide support and cushioning for individuals with knee discomfort or limited flexibility. This modification helps to reduce strain on the knees and allows for a more comfortable practice.
  2. Elevated hips: If sitting directly on the heels is uncomfortable, using a block or bolster to elevate the hips can reduce strain on the knees and ankles. This modification also provides additional support for individuals with limited flexibility.
  3. Keeping the hands on the floor: Instead of reaching the arms forward, some individuals may find it more comfortable to keep the hands resting on the floor beside the body. This modification allows for a more accessible variation of the asana and still provides a gentle stretch in the spine and hips.
  4. Supported forward fold: Placing a bolster or folded blanket on the thighs and allowing the torso to rest on the support can offer a more restorative variation of Shashankasana. This modification provides a gentle stretch and relaxation, particularly suitable for those who require extra support or prefer a milder stretch.
  5. Dynamic movement: Instead of holding the asana statically, individuals can incorporate gentle rocking or swaying movements in the forward fold. This variation can help release tension and create a soothing effect on the body and mind.
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Precautions and Contraindications

Precautions and contraindications are essential in Shashankasana (Hare Pose). It ensure the safety and well-being of your practicing the asana.

The precautions and contraindications are explaining below:

1. Abdominal injury

In the case of an abdominal injury, practicing poses like Hare Pose, which involve forward folding and pressure on the abdomen, may cause discomfort or aggravate the injury. It is recommended to avoid or modify the asana to prevent strain or further injury. Consulting with a healthcare professional or experienced yoga instructor/teacher is advisable.

2. Recent shoulder or back surgery

After undergoing shoulder or back surgery, it is crucial to allow ample time for healing and to follow any restrictions or guidelines provided by the medical professional. Asanas like Shashankasana, which involve folding forward and bearing weight on the shoulders or back, may strain the healing tissues. It is best to avoid the asana until cleared by a healthcare professional.

3. Knee problems or slipped disc

Individuals with knee problems or a slipped disc may experience discomfort or instability when assuming positions like Hare Pose. The wide-legged position and forward fold may place strain on the knees or spine. It is advisable to modify the asana, use props for support, or choose alternative asanas that do not exacerbate the condition. Consulting with a healthcare professional or experienced yoga instructor/teacher is recommended.

4. Pregnancy and menstrual cycle

During pregnancy, certain poses, including deep forward folds like Shashankasana, should be approached with caution or avoided altogether. This yoga asana can put pressure on the abdomen and restrict blood flow. Additionally, during the menstrual cycle, some individuals may experience discomfort or increased pelvic sensitivity, making deep forward folds less suitable. Modifications or alternative asanas that provide comfort and support should be practiced. Consulting with a prenatal yoga instructor/teacher or healthcare professional is important to ensure safe and appropriate modifications.

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