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Benefits of Makarasana (Crocodile Pose) and How to Do it By Dr. Ankit Sankhe

By Dr. Ankit Sankhe +2 more

Introduction: 

Nowadays, we are all in the “Hurry-Worry-Curry”. It is a term used to describe our fast-paced lives. It’s a simple description of the tension, stress and improper food habits that engulfs us due to the competitive ways of life.1  

makarasana yoga pose

This lifestyle has forced many of us to seek refuge in yoga. Yoga is an ancient practice. However, it has only recently been regarded by the western world as a complete approach towards a healthier lifestyle. It is now categorized under Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) by the National Institute of Health.2 Yoga is a vast subject and operated through various modalities.  

Among the sea of practices that yoga offers, makarasana is one. Makarasana is an easy relaxing exercise. This asana aims at releasing the strain caused by performing other yogic poses. Let us find out more about this unique asana. 

What is Makarasana?  

Have you ever seen pictures or videos of a resting crocodile slightly lifting its neck and face above the surface of water? The posture of this asana closely resembles this sight. Therefore, it is called makarasana. The word makarasana constitutes of two words, makar and asana where makar means crocodile and asana means posture. Hence, it is also known as the crocodile pose. It is a variation of shalabhasana (locust pose). This is a restorative and relaxing pose and seems to be good for stress management and maintenance of good posture too. There are claims that this posture might be good for the leg muscles, back of the arms and legs, buttock and rear muscles of the body.3 Further details about how to perform it are given in the following sections. 

How to do it? 

You may want to perform this asana in the morning as it is best done empty stomach. These are the makarasana steps that you need to follow: 

  • Always make sure that you sit in a well-lit and ventilated room while performing yoga asanas. 
  • Firstly, take a mat and lie flat on your stomach in a prone position. 
  • Then, raise your head along with   your shoulders. 
  • Next you have to fold your arms by placing the right arm above the left arm while keeping the elbow pointed. 
  • The left palm should be kept on the ground and the right palm on the left arm. The fingers should touch the inside of the elbow. 
  • Now you should place you head at the centre point where you’ve placed the right wrist above the left wrist. 
  • You should now close your eyes and relax your body and mind. 
  • After some time you can slowly open your eyes and release the posture.3 

Kindly ensure that you consult with a trained practitioner before following the makarasana procedure.  

Also Read: Benefits of Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana) and How to Do it By Dr. Himani Bisht

Do You Know? 

There is a fair amount of speculation about the origin of the name makarasna. Though it is believed to mean crocodile, the exact origin of the name might have a deeper meaning. Here are a few beliefs that you might find interesting. These are however not yet proved. 

  • In Ramayana, Hanuman (the most devoted disciple of Lord Rama) , stops to drink at a lake and is engulfed by a mighty crocodile. To escape from its crutches, Hanuman is believed to have changed his shape and size to such a form that the crocodile bursts to reveal an apsara. The apsara named Dhyanamalini had been cursed to become a monster and was relieved from the spell by Hanuman. Some believe that the origin of makarasana is in this particular section of Ramayana. It is believed that the pose of makarasana was performed by hanuman while in the crocodile’s stomach. 
  • Although the word makar in makarasana is commonly translated to crocodile, it could also represent a different mythical sea-creature similar to  a shark or a dolphin. Moreover, in Hindu mythology, the crocodile, or “makar” is known to be the vehicle of sea-God Varuna and the river-Goddess Ganga.  

Along with many other benefits mentioned, Makarasana might also help with maintaining menstrual health in women. Obesity and stress are the primary causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is mainly characterized by irregular menstruation, acne, anxiety, emotional imbalances, etc. Yoga practices like Shavasana, and Makarasana, along with meditation and pranayama, aid in managing these symptoms and help in maintaining a normal and healthy menstrual cycle.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Also Read: Benefits of Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose) and How to Do it By Dr. Himani Bisht

Benefits of Makarasana: 

Makarasana benefits for the human health might be as described below: 

1. Benefits of makarasana for stimulation of life force ‘Prana’ 

The crocodile pose might relax the muscles in the lower region of the body, stimulate a triangular bone between the hips (sacrum) and may support the spine. This may allow better flow of prana (life-force) and may aid in removing blockages. Overall, it might have a relaxing effect on all the muscles of the body and improve self-control. This relaxing effect might also lead to a decreased oxygen demand in the body, which may add calmness. However, further studies are required to understand these effects completely.3 

2. Benefits of makarasana for back pain 

Makarasana might be helpful for people with some types of lower back pain. It has been seen that those who suffer from lower back pain, slipped disc and sciatica (pain involving hips and radiating to the leg) might find relief after performing the crocodile posture. Staying in this asana for a prolonged period of time might help normalize the vertebral column’s shape. It might also release the compressed spinal nerves. However, ensure that you practice this after consultation with a doctor and under the guidance of a trained professional.3  

3. Benefits of makarasana for asthma 

The makarasana posture might allow more air to pass into the lungs. Thus, it might be a beneficial practice for those with asthma and other lung diseases. This is one of the simple relaxing asanas which concentrates on breath awareness, making it possibly beneficial for asthmatics.3 

4. Benefits of makarasana for strengthening the body 

The makarasana posture is a unique pose in which the whole body is exercised. Thus, it might facilitate better circulation of blood to the body parts, especially the legs and fingers. This asana might also help in warding off fatigue and general malaise. Moreover, this pose is believed to raise the body’s energy levels by generating subtle energies. Therefore, makarasana may play a vital role in building the body’s strength.3 

5. Benefits of makarasana for digestion 

Makarasana pose might aid in digestion. It was observed that the makarasana posture puts a pressure on the abdomen. It also allows the mind to concentrate on breathing. These effects combine and might strengthen the digestion process. More studies are required to prove these effects.1 

6. Benefits of makarasana for stress  

Studies have shown that makarasana might have a positive effect on the state of mind. It might help relieve stress and fatigue and make the person conscious of their breathing. It might also awaken the kundalini chakra (one of the seven energy centres of the body) which might have a positive effect on the mind. In a study conducted on a group of survivors of a natural disaster dealing with stress, it was observed that a series of exercises including makarasana might help relieve stress. However, more studies are required to confirm these findings.1,3,4 

7. Benefits of makarasana for differently-abled people 

Research was done on differently-abled people to test the effects of makarasana. It was seen that regular practice showed an improvement of mental ability as well as social and motor skills. Therefore, it was concluded that makarasana might help restore mental and physical health to some degree. However, more research is required to know the complete effects. Therefore, kindly consult a trained yoga instructor for further information.5 

Yoga practice may help develop the mind and body; however, it is still not an alternative to modern medicine. You must not rely on yoga alone to treat any condition. Please consult a qualified doctor who will be able to assess your condition correctly and advise accordingly. Moreover, it is necessary to practice and learn yoga under the supervision of a trained yoga teacher to avoid any injuries.  

Also Read: Benefits of Garudasana (Eagle Pose) and How to Do it By Dr. Ankit Sankhe

Risks of Exercise 

The following people might be at risk of performing the crocodile pose: 

  • Pregnant women are at risk of performing this exercise. Kindly consult with a doctor and confirm whether it is safe for you to practice this exercise before performing it. 
  • People who have severe back problems should not perform this procedure as it might be useful for relieving only particular pains of the lower back. Kindly consult a doctor and seek their advice if you have severe back pain.3 
  • If you have stomach problems, you should seek medical advice from a trained professional before performing this asana as it might help to improve digestion but might not be effective against other stomach problems.3 
  • If you hurt your spine recently, you should avoid doing this exercise and should consult a doctor about when you can perform this exercise again.3 

With the guidance of a qualified and experienced yoga teacher/yoga expert, we can access and analyse the risk factors and continue to practice exercise with precautions.  

If you are intended to practice Makarasana, you must follow the pattern to gain maximum benefits. Prepare yourself for Makarasana by doing Padma Sadhana, then Bhujangasana, then Shalabasana and then Viparita Shalabasana. Then do Makarasana. Lastly, cool down in Balasana and Savasana.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Conclusion  

Makarasana yoga is also known as the crocodile pose and may be beneficial for stress-relieving, lower-back pain, sciatica, asthma, calming the mind, etc. The makarasana posture resembles a crocodile resting in water with its head and neck peaking above the water level. It is a relaxing posture done after other asanas. You can perform this asana by laying on your stomach on the ground, slightly lifting your head and shoulders, then crossing your arms at the front with the left arm on the ground and the right above it. The wrists cross at the centre and the fingers meet the inside of your elbows. You can rest your head at the centre, on the wrists, and relax by closing your eyes. After some time, you can open your eyes and release the position. It might be helpful for However, you should seek the guidance of a trained professional before performing it, especially if you are pregnant, have spine or stomach problems. 

Also Read: Benefits of Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose) and How to Do it By Dr. Himani Bisht

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are makarasana benefits? 

Makarasana might be good for the health as it may help in calming the mind, improve the digestive power, bring awareness of breath, etc.1,3–5 However, these effects have to be proven by further research. Therefore, kindly consult a doctor for your health problems. 

Is the crocodile pose yoga easy? 

Yes, crocodile pose may be regarded as an easy pose and can be performed by beginners too. It is a restorative asana which focuses on breath awareness and relieving stress.3 

What are the benefits of makarasana for back pain? 

Makarasana might be good for relieving back pain. It might also be helpful for people with slipped discs, lower back pain and sciatica.3 

Is crocodile pose good for digestion? 

The crocodile pose or makarasana might be helpful for digestion as performing it puts pressure on the abdomen and concentrates on breathing which might have a positive effect on the digestive strength.1 

Are there any effects of makarasana yoga on asthma? 

Makarasana might be helpful for asthma as it concentrates on breathing and performing it might increase the amount of air flow into the lungs.3  

References: 

1. Pawar K V., Ital S V., Patil AD, Patil DB. To study the efficacy of Makarasana as an Agnivardhana Karma. J Ayurveda Integr Med Sci [Internet]. 2017 Oct 28;2(05). Available from: https://www.myresearchjournals.com/index.php/JAIMS/article/view/10253 

2. Woodyard C. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. Int J Yoga [Internet]. 2011;4(2):49. Available from: http://www.ijoy.org.in/text.asp?2011/4/2/49/85485 

3. Ganagawal J, Rathore K. Importance of makarasana anf it’s anatomical aspect in healthy lifr. Kalyan Bharathi [Internet]. 2021;36(9):77–87. Available from: https://fas.jvwu.in/Research/2020/Dr. Jyoti Gangwal.pdf 

4. Telles S, Naveen K V., Dash M. Yoga Reduces Symptoms of Distress in Tsunami Survivors in the Andaman Islands. Evidence-Based Complement Altern Med [Internet]. 2007;4(4):503–9. Available from: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2007/327863/abs/ 

5. Jaiganesh K, Parthasarathy S, Duraisami V. Combined effect of inclusive games and yogic relaxation on the selected domestic skills among physically challenged boys. Int J Yoga [Internet]. 2011;4(2):100. Available from: http://www.ijoy.org.in/text.asp?2011/4/2/100/85493 

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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