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N A S A N G U S H T A S A N A
The name of this asana comes from the Sanskrit: nasi means nose and angushta means toe.
Consequently, in this pose, the legs are bent so as they touch the nose.
THE FIRST STAGE
Raise and stretch backwards the left arm, while the right arm goes towards the left leg, to firmly hold on to the left toe.
THE SECOND STAGE
Exhale deeply, while you vigorously pull the leg, bringing it as closely as possible to the nose, maybe even touching it. In the same time, the right shank and the head come off the floor.
The neck muscles play an important part in the final execution of this asana, contributing to the limited distance between the nose and the toe.
Keep this pose and breathe deeply for at least ten times, or even 20 times, without moving. After you come back with your body on the floor, place your hands behind the head, just as in the starting position.
Then we repeat the posture bending the right leg and following the instructions provided so far.
THE FINAL POSE
Bring both feet towards the front, so that the toes are as closely as possible to your nose, and keep this pose for approximately 20 breaths.
However, there is one detail to be taken into account: this time the left hand holds the left toe, and the right hand the right toe.
Focus your attention on the inferior part of the abdomen, especially the area compressed by the bent legs.
There are no contraindications to this pose. Any person able to do it has nothing to worry, as there is no risk of damaging any body part.
THE PLACE IN THE DAILY PRACTICE
Nasangushtasana is usually performed in the end of the series, right before Shirshasana.
As its very name indicates, this asana is highly focused on the toes, an essential element in performing this asana.
In the Orient, the toe is considered "intelligent". As in the past the people would often walk around bare-footed, their feet would touch directly the earth, and they would feel the rocks, the grass.
Thus, their toes would become agile and almost as sensitive as those of the hands. It is known that a person whose hands are dysfunctional are able to use their toes just as a healthy person uses the fingers and the hands.
Certain people of the former category we mentioned are able to paint or even type with their feet. Through the sole, the human organism is directly connected to the earth.
Usually, modern people are deprived of the beneficial contact with the earth because we wear shoes most of the time, and we are thus "isolated".
Moreover, through its beneficial effects, reflexology demonstrates that the sole is in a direct, close connection with certain parts of our body. For instance, the famous doctor Kneipp prescribed his patients to walk bare-footed through the grass or even though a river.
From the perspective of the circulation of the pranic energies through the subtle body, the toe has an utmost importance. The most terrible disease, causing the most inflicting pain and preventing one from even walking is undoubtedly the gout. This disease has two main causes: a diet too rich in ureic toxins and a renal deficiency.
After a rich meat meal, the quantity of ureic acid in the blood increases significantly and the organism requires about eight hours to get rid of it. If the kidneys do not function normally, the uric acid, instead of being eliminated through the urine, deposits in the tissue and "intoxicates" it.
For us at this point, it is less important why the uric acid has a predilection for the toes and for the articulations. It is enough to retain the fact that for the persons predisposed to it, one meal too rich in meat is enough to cause a serious gout crisis.
However, our body has many articulations and wrists. Why, of them all, the toes are the most sensitive? In the yoghic theories there is an explanation including the esoteric notions of prana and apana.
Apana is that part of our energetical activity that is responsible for the elimination of urine, sperm, menstruations, etc. It is located in the lower abdomen and in the feet. Consequently, the toe is corresponding to the kidneys mainly.
Through the nadis (subtle energetic channels of the ethereal structure) there is established a connection between these very distinct body-parts. Therefore, in pressopuncture, and reflexology is asserted the fact that in order to keep our kidneys fit and in good shape we need to massage and pull our toes! This is also the advice the yoghis offer!
Moreover, the toes will benefit strongly because of the increased blood circulation, as in it there are also terminal fibers of the sciatic nerve. Therefore, the massage of the toe generates an entire series of reflexes transmitted to the spine. In the following, we will analyze the effects of this asana on the various systems of our organism.
The abdominal and especially the oblique muscles are highly activated by the practice of this asana. As the shanks are contracted to their maximum, their muscles are also fortified. Moreover, the contraction of the muscles pushes the venal blood towards the heart.
There are a lot of people suffering of cramps. The practice of this asana will reduce their frequency until their gradual and complete disappearance.
The asana may sometimes cause pain in the contracted shank. In this case, it is enough if you pull the corresponding toe vigorously and the pain will vanish immediately.
This pose also fortifies the muscles of the back of the head and relaxes them. A permanent contraction of these muscles causes disturbances in the blood circulation and this is damaging for the brain, our great consumer of oxygen. Through the stimulation of the neck area, Nasangushtasana favors an improved irrigation of this organ.
THE ABDOMINAL ORGANS
This asana alternatively compresses each part of the abdomen, especially the ascendent and descendent colon. this pose tones the abdomial organs, and primarily the genital organs, through a controlled breathing. The kidneys are also highly stimulated through the practice of this asana.
HEART AND ARTERIAL TENSION
In this pose you automatically do Jalandhara Bandha, the contraction of the muscles of the neck. The muscular compression of the carotidien sinuses triggers a beneficial action on the heart, which leads to a normalization of the arterial tension.
In this asana, all the joints of the legs are worked out, especially those of the knees. This is also why this asana is an excellent preparation for and helps the execution of Padmasana, the Lotus Pose.
The coxo-femural articulation is supplementary, but harmoniously solicited, which ensures its mobility. Nasangushtasana delays and sometimes even prevents the appearance of arthritis in the thighbone area.
The multitude of beneficial, positive effects are just as many powerful reasons to justify its regular practice.