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Vishnu's Repose

Find inner poise in Anantasana, a pose dedicated to the deity said to preserve and sustain the universe.

By Jennifer Rodrigue, sequence by Elise Browning Miller


At first glance, Anantasana (Reclining Pose Dedicated to Vishnu) appears easy, as if you're simply lounging around. But it takes strength, flexibility, and finely honed balance to retain softness and calm in the pose. Ananta is the nickname of the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu, the Preserver, the one who sustains the universe between the cycles of creation and destruction, and who is said to be the Giver of Yoga, who is himself yoked in yoga. It's also the name of the thousand-headed serpent that serves as Vishnu's couch—which might explain why the pose looks so relaxing.

Elise Browning Miller, a senior certified Iyengar Yoga teacher in Palo Alto, California, suggests you cultivate a sense of repose, even as you work to integrate stability and opening in your poses. "There's always that balance of going inward to create a sense of peacefulness, and then allowing that to expand outward but never losing your source."

Miller's sequence grounds the torso and legs while it opens the navel, side body, and shoulders, leading you to experience the ultimate repose in Anantasana. She encourages you to be fully present as you practice this sequence and to give yourself time to repeat a pose if you feel you'd like to refine your alignment. You'll have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate your own strength, flexibility, and balance while you evoke the poise and creative power of Vishnu.

To BeginFind balance. Sit cross-legged and find a sense of balance. Root your sitting bones and observe your breath. Breathe into the navel region, the seat of power and creativity in the body. Then, invite your breath up through the full length of your spine to open your body to this sense of strength and receptivity.

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

From Dandasana (Staff Pose), stack your right knee on top of your left, feet outside your hips. If your hips are tight, sit up on a block. Lift your left arm, lower your right arm, bend your elbows, and clasp your hands behind you. Hold on to a strap if your hands do not reach. Take 5 breaths and repeat on the second side.

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September 2010

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