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Lying Down Over a Rolled Blanket Increases Agni

Over the last several months one of our teachers here at Maitri, Irene, has brought in a Forrest Yoga pose to many of her classes.  This month we are focusing on Agni, our internal and digestive fires, so it is appropriate to bring more awareness to this posture.
By practicing this you will release tension that is subconsciously stored in the abdomen.  (Try pressing into your belly and most likely you’ll find at least a few places that are uncomfortable.)  You will improve your digestion and therefore, your agni – inner fire.  This pose can allow repressed emotions to begin to move and release. And, it is also good to help create space in the lower back and to bring an overall feeling of health to the entire pelvis.  Opening energy in the abdomen helps us to connect to our gut instincts, helping us feel more in tune with our highest selves.  And literally, it will move the crap – you will clear out the entire digestive track.
Releasing stress and tension in the belly may feel uncomfortable at first, but the benefits are significant. I have been practicing this daily for the last three weeks and truly look forward to it each morning.  It starts my day off with release of the old stagnant energies I unknowingly carry around with me instead of the immediate to-do list that can fill my brain upon waking.
In Forrest Yoga, they use a rolled-up blanket to support many prone back bends.  Today we will focus on the release of the body over a blanket and a cobra over a roll.  You will need a yoga blanket for this.  If you are at home and don’t have a “yoga blanket” any kind of firm blanket that is approximately 75” x 53” will do.  You could also try rolling up a large beach towel.  The roll should be about 10-12 inches wide once completed.
Start by folding the blanket in half, tassel to tassel.  Then in half two more times side to side.  You’ll end up with a long, skinny, rectangular blanket.  Lay this on the floor neatly with the tassels away from you and roll the blanket into a tight roll.
Place this near the middle of your mat and kneel over the top of it.  Gently lower your body down so the roll ends up in the soft area of your abdomen, between the bottom ribs and pubic bone. If you feel it pressing into the low ribs, it’s too high up.  Move the roll down toward the pelvis.
Start with your forearms supporting you on the floor so the chest can be open and lifted.  The head can hang loosely to relax the neck muscles.  Now the most important thing – BREATHE.  Breathe deeply down into your belly and notice the sensations.  Feel your lower back muscles expand and lift.  Give permission to the roll to sink a little deeper into your belly.  Relax over the roll.
When you feel comfortable, lower the chest and head down towards the floor.
What do you notice?  How does the body feel? What do you feel emotionally? Can you relax into the intensity?  Support yourself in all ways with deep, delicious breaths.
Begin holding this pose for 1-2 minutes.  Allow the time to grow naturally.  I have worked my way up to about 10 minutes each morning.  Oh, by the way, don’t do this posture with a full belly or bladder.  Not comfortable at all.  And obviously, don’t practice if you are pregnant.

When you are ready to release the pose, bring your hands under your shoulders and slowly press up into a cobra or sphinx shape (sphinx is basically a cobra but with the forearms on the floor to support).  This is Cobra Over a Roll Pose.  Spend a few breaths here, then make your way back to All 4s and eventually a Child’s Pose.  Take a few deep breaths down deep into the belly and pelvis and notice what has shifted for you.
I will be totally honest with you, while I look forward to practicing this pose first thing each morning, it felt like it got harder for a while and is now on a path of it getting easier.  At first my body just felt like it was new and different, but tolerable.  Then it started to resist it and that’s when it started feeling harder.  I would breathe through the struggle and relax both the body as well as my mind.  At about two weeks in, I felt like my body started to accept the pose more gracefully.  I’m glad that I persevered and stuck with the practice.  My digestive system is thanking me for it.
Let me know how it works for you or if you have any questions!  Happy fire building!
In love and light,
Mindy Arbuckle
Maitri Founder