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Description of the Main Postures

Place the left ankle against the yoni place towards the right and cross the right ankle above it on the left. Keep the mouth open and the tongue hanging out the eyes focused between the brows. The hands are stretched over the knees. The three muscular contractions (bandha) are easy in this posture. This is one of the best for making the muscles supple and, when the Net-holding contraction is incorrectly done, this posture helps to rectify it. It is also one of the best for awakening the coiled energy kundalini. It strengthens the faculties of knowing and gives excellent health.

(8) The Cow Muzzle Posture (Gomukhasana): "In the Cow Muzzle Posture one should place the right ankle (on the ground) along the left side of the body and the left ankle along the right side so as to look like the muzzle of a cow." (Trishikhi Brahmana Up. 36.)

(9) The Fearful Posture (Ugrasana) or Drawing Back (West) Posture (Paschimatanasana): "Stretch both legs joined and holding firmly the feet with the hands place the head on the knees. This is called the Fearful Posture (Ugrasana) which stimulates the fire of the life breath, it destroys death and is also known as the Drawing-back (Paschimatana) posture. This is the best of postures which the wise should practice always so that the vital breath may flow through the Western (back) channels." (Shiva Samhita 3, 111, 113.)

"This posture should as far as possible be kept secret. (The reaction it produces in those who see it is harmful to them. No yogi is ever seen in this posture in a public place.) It should not be given to anyone. It gives a very great speed to the vital energies and destroys accumulated pain."

It greatly improves blood circulation and increases digestive powers. When, as in this posture, the subtle life-breath rises through the central artery of the subtle body (sushumna) to the back of the head; it is said "to move up the back (West) way" (Pashchima marga), whence the name of the posture. But when the subtle life-breath passes up to the Center called the lotus of the thousand petals, at the summit of the head, through the subtle artery between the brows, it is called "the front (East) way (Purva marga). In the posture of Attainment, both the back and front, West and East, arteries of the subtle body are equally important. whereas, in this posture, the back artery is given prominence, Moreover, when the subtle life-breath passes through one only of the two subtle arteries, much quicker results are achieved, and herein lies the special merit of this posture.

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