Rabbit pose is classified as an inversion pose in yoga. It’s not the stereotypical kind of inversion that takes a lot of strength and has you fully upside down. The upper body does go upside down in this pose but it’s not as scary as more mainstream inversions like handstand or shoulder stand pose. It’s an interesting looking yoga pose that isn’t often seen in yoga practices.
Many say that rabbit pose is an uncomfortable pose that doesn’t bring them any calm or relaxation as most yoga poses do. Though, the discomfort that comes from this pose is one of the biggest reasons it’s brought into a yoga practice. Discomfort can teach you a lot about your body and how to control your breath in situations of unease.
The basics of rabbit pose
Rabbit pose is known as Sasangasana in Sanskrit and is named that because the shape of it looks like a rabbit. This pose targets the head, neck, shoulders, spine, and toes. The rounding of the pose allows so many parts of the body to be stretched, which is what makes it such an inviting and beneficial pose.
Although rabbit pose doesn’t require any strength to get into, it’s still a difficult pose to hold that stretches a lot. This makes it an intermediate level pose, but beginners can also do it and it has been added into beginner yoga flows before. It’s also used as an introductory pose to other more difficult inversions like headstand.
The benefits of practicing rabbit pose
Rabbit pose is extremely beneficial to the body. It’s been known to relieve pressure in the neck and spine by stretching it. This calms the person and allows them to relax more. It’s a pose most often used to help people when they are struggling to sleep or for those who stay awaake a lot. It also stretches the ankles and the toes.
The pressure on the head allows more blood to flow through to the brain. This can often help if someone has a cold or is experiencing a headache. The stretch felt in a rabbit pose allows any tension in the neck, shoulders, and back to be released. It’s one of the best poses to use if regular tension is held in these areas.
How to do rabbit pose
Step by step instructions for getting into the pose
- Begin in a kneeling position with the glutes seated on the back of the legs. Keep the toes tucked under the whole time to help with balance.
- From there, slowly bring the arms around so that the hands can grab onto the heels of the feet. Round the back body as much as is needed to be able to grab the heels. If the heels feel too far away, you can also hold onto your ankles or slightly higher up the legs.
- With control, slowly begin to lower your head towards the ground. Engage the core and thigh muscles so that you don’t end up faceplanting into the mat. You can place a pillow where your head is going beforehand if you feel nervous.
- Once the head has reached the ground begin to round the body more so that you can place the very top of the head on the ground. The area of the head that feels slightly flatter than the rest of the head is where you want to be touching the ground with.
- The head should be quite close to the knees and the upper body should be completely rounded.
- Hold here for 5-10 breaths remembering to breathe deeply and focus on the breath before slowly coming out of the pose.
Common mistakes made when doing the pose
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to do rabbit pose is they don’t move into it with control. They rush into the pose, which often causes the head to hit the ground really hard. This is painful and unnecessary. Slowly moving into the pose and engaging the right muscles to do so will ensure a pain-free arrival into rabbit pose.
Another mistake that people make in the pose is trying to round the neck too much to get a different part of the head on the mat. This can result in neck pain and an awkward position. You should be able to feel a stretch in the back and neck, but not any pain.
For those who are trying rabbit pose out for the first time, one of the best things you can do is use a pillow. The pressure on the top of the head can sometimes be too much, especially when it’s your first time trying the pose out. A pillow can help with fear and with easing into the pose. Over time the pillow can be removed when the person is more comfortable in rabbit pose.
Another important tip to remember when doing this pose is to breathe. Breathing will help so much with any discomfort. It also helps to ease into the pose more and relax. The longer the pose is held, the easier and more relaxing it will feel. The pose can’t be held for long unless there is focus on the breath.
If someone has an injury in their neck, spine, shoulders, or ankles then they shouldn’t be doing rabbit pose. Similarly, if someone is experiencing pain in these areas then they should also avoid the pose. Consult a doctor or physician before doing any physical exercise or trying out any yoga pose.
Variations of rabbit pose
One of the most common variations of rabbit pose is headstand. Headstand is also an inversion that has the same benefits as rabbit pose, except it’s more difficult. This is because it requires more engagement of certain muscles and is a more difficult balancing posture. A lot more work goes into headstand but practicing rabbit pose will prepare the body and the mind for headstand and other inversions.